Hollywood westerns often feature a train chugging its way west
through rough, tree-covered mountains.
black smoke, belched from a coal-powered engine, trailed back
above the passenger cars. A romantic image, but not an
environmentally friendly one.
In a new
exhibit at the South Florida Science Museum, trustee and
technology enthusiast Rick Newman combines the nostalgia of
the rails with a clean, modern energy source.
along the museum's outdoor science trail, Newman unveiled the
Solar Express. It is a 16- by 24-foot exhibit of a complete
miniature town — with model houses and businesses, a
windmill, farm, Ferris wheel and more. Two trains — powered
entirely by a solar panel — travel through the town after
guests hit buttons controlling them.
about $20,000 on the exhibit and about $4,000 on the solar
panel. The exhibit shows visitors the sun's potential as an
energy source that does not pollute the air, said Newman, a
Boca Raton resident.
"Everybody likes trains, so I wanted to make something
that would 'wow!' the kids and the adults and bring back
childhood memories — and at the same time give them a little
scientific inspiration," Newman said.
he hopes the exhibit will encourage children to replace
incandescent bulbs with energy-saving fluorescent bulbs at
home and take other steps to protect the environment.
in a few years they will be producing the next generation of
solar panels for everybody," Newman said.
Caspi, 13, of Long Island, N.Y., understood the message.
"It was interesting how it ran on solar power," he
explaining how the solar panel works will be erected at the
permanent exhibit within a few weeks.
is not Newman's first contribution to the museum; his electric
car, space artifacts and model space ships are all on display
at the West Palm Beach facility. Newman also lent versions of
Robbie the Robot, the Lost in Space robot and R2D2 of Star
Wars fame to the Science Museum for the Robotics exhibit that
ends today, executive director Charles Hamilton said.
or call 832-1988 for more details.