Schottenbauer Publishing

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Learning Physics & Math from Toy Trains

In the USA, many children have played with either a hand-powered or electric train. With a bit of scientific equipment, toy trains are interesting tools for learning science and math. The following graphs, excerpted from the series The Science of Trains from Schottenbauer Publishing, provide data from several toy trains. 

Discussion Questions
  1. What are the minimum and maximum values of each variable?
  2. Draw the trajectory of the train, marking its position every half second with a label.
  3. What is the absolute distance the train travels on the track?
  4. What is the average speed of the train?

Discussion Questions
  1. What is the average current while the power is on?
  2. What is the average electric potential while the power is on?
  3. What is the average real power while the current is on? The potential power?
  4. When the power is turned on, how much time is required to reach the maximum values?
  5. What is the electrical resistance in this example?
  6. What might be the effect of adding or subtracting cars to the train? Adding or subtracting weight to the train?

Discussion Questions
  1. What is the maximum force required to pull the train?
  2. What is the average force required to pull the train?
  3. How much work is exerted while pulling the train?
  4. At what point in time does the train begin to move? (Hint: The accelerometer, measuring acceleration and Force 2, is on the train.)

The following books from Schottenbauer Publishing contain similar types of graphs and data pertaining to the science of trains:

Graphs & Data for Science Lab: Multi-Volume Series
  • The Science of Trains
    • Volume 1: Force & Acceleration
    • Volume 2: Electricity & Magnetism, Video Analysis
    • Volume 3: Video Analysis
Anthologies of 28 Graphs
    • The Science of Transportation

    Additional Information