Steam Locomotives – How do they work?

steam_engine_21The book‘s explanation of a steam locomotive reads like something I’d read to my 3 year old nephew, not a 3rd grader.

“The steam presses on pipes inside the locomotive. It moves a special part that turns the wheels.”

So I found a video that explains it all in proper terms: piston, valve, etc.


So after watching the video, we can read the slightly less childish text on page 215 that describes the job of a fireman and the engineer.

Discussion Questions:

  • How is the fireman on a train different than a fireman in our neighborhood?  How are they the same?
  • What is the engineer’s job?
  • What kind of problems might an engineer see on the tracks ahead?
  • What movie can you think of where an engineer saw a problem on the tracks ahead?

Links for more information:
How the Steam Engine of the Locomotive Works

Animated Engines
Central Pacific Railroad Photographic History Museum

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