Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Trains and Your Future!

Remember the Trivia Time from Monday?... (you don't want to miss the Monday posts for Unit of the Week!)

I asked you what 4 feet, 8.5 inches had to do with trains and the future? Do you know?

Well, 4 feet, 8.5 inches is the standard railroad gauge (that's the distance between the rails). How does that affect the future? Let me tell you, its the gauge used by the English who built the US Railroads. Still not clear, the English used this gauge because the jigs and tools they used were used pre-railroad to build wagons. Further, the wagon makers used this spacing in England because of the wheel ruts. Just where did those wheel ruts come from - Imperial Rome (their war chariots made them...) The Romans made the chariots just wide enough to accomodate the backends of two war horses - you guessed it - 4 feet 8.5 inches wide!

But, what about the future? The Space Shuttle has two big booster rockets attached to it's main fuel tank. The solid rocket boosters are made in Utah, and have to be shipped to the launch site - via the railway. The route to the launch pad takes them through narrow tunnels in the mountains, about the width of the railway track. I know you know it...4 feet, 8.5 inches wide!

Here's the message, what we do today does have a long lasting impact. Don't choose to school one way, just because it's the way it's always been done. Be bold enough to widen your family's tracks! Try something new (like the Trains Unit Study) and see where it takes them!

"The path to my fixed purpose is laid with iron rails, whereupon my soul is grooved to run" Moby Dick, Herman Melville, 1851

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