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Solar Express Trains at the SFSM

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The following article appeared in the April 2008 issue of

"All aboard the Solar Express"

 South Florida Parenting Magazine
Posted
April, 2008

   Visitors to the "Solar Express" exhibit at the South Florida Science Museum can't quite hop onboard, but they can certainly serve as the train conductor for this G-scale sized model train set and learn about saving energy at the same time.

   As the name implies, the train exhibit operates solely on solar power. Boca Raton resident Rick Newman, who is a member of the museum's board, designed the exhibit and wanted to pay tribute to the origins of Florida being tied to the railroads.

   "Florida is the Sunshine State, so it made sense to use solar power to run the trains," he said.

   In addition to a freight train complete with livestock and a passenger train, the exhibit includes a replica of a town circa 1950's, with a factory, oil platform, railroad crossings, a Ferris wheel, homes and moving people. Visitors are able to start and stop the trains and other elements in the town by pushing buttons on a control panel.

   Solar panels that are hooked up to a charge controller, deep cycle batteries and a power inverter power the train system's transformers.

   Newman said the idea "came from the kid in me." The adult in him recognized an opportunity to increase focus on environmental awareness and bring attention to the use of solar power at the same time.

   The "Solar Express" is a permanent exhibit at the South Florida Science Museum which is located at 4801 Dreher Trail North in West Palm Beach. For more information, visit SFSM.org or call (561) 832-1988 .


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