A Quarterly Column by Anthony D. Fredericks
A New (Ad)venture!
I remember my first train trip. It was the early 1950s and my grandmother and I were traveling from Los Angeles to San Diego on the Santa Fe Railway. She was in her finest dress, white gloves, proper hat, and polished black pumps. I was decked out in a new suit, starched white shirt, muted blue tie, and handkerchief in my coat pocket. The conductor yelled, “All Aboard!” and we strolled through the ornate doors of Union Station and onto the train. We were escorted to our plush first-class seats by a smiling attendant, then offered a beverage. As the locomotive lurched forward, I stared out the window at the slowly rolling landscape and instantly became enamored of this mode of transportation.
It was the adventure of a lifetime!
I’ve never forgotten that trip. Although it’s been nearly 70 years, I still recall every embroidered detail of the coach car, every telephone pole we passed along the route and every creak, rumble, and clickety-clack during the journey southward. They are memories forever etched as an important part of my childhood.
Now, Northern Central Railway of York (NCR) is about to set out on its own new adventure – an educational journey to engage children in several learning opportunities. Known as the STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, Math) Program, kids will actively participate in numerous projects to educate them about trains in general, and the Northern Central Railway in particular. Several activities are already in place and others are in the planning stages. Here are some of the current offerings:
STEAM Handout I: This activity sheet (available to parents during ticket pick-up) has five learning activities (one for each letter of STEAM). The activities do not require any materials and can be accomplished during any of the train trips.
STEAM Handout II: This activity sheet also has five different STEAM activities. These activities are offered during a 20-minute location stop whenever the train pulls into Hanover Junction.
STEAM Handout III: The third activity sheet is also a collection of five individual STEAM activities. These projects are designed to be completed at home (with some parental assistance). Each of these sheets are supplemented with a YouTube video demonstrating how each project works. You can find them on our channel here: https://youtube.com/playlist?list=PLX0ZG_8QsbaN2Nah3eexlHd9UB-WbrtEF
Children’s Book: A special children’s alphabet book will soon be released (“All Aboard” Starts with A), specifically showcasing the Northern Central Railway. The book is scheduled for publication on or about April 1, 2021.
Landing Page: This special page on the NCR website is devoted to educational information, activities, and projects kids can do at home – either before or after a train trip. Find out more HERE.
Summer Camp: Plans are underway for several summer camp programs in 2021. Lots of STEAM activities, special speakers, hands-on workshops, and exciting train rides are all part of this dynamic summer project.
Classroom Connection: The Project will eventually be offered to elementary teachers as a standards-based science curriculum with a wealth of “hands-on, minds-on” opportunities.
There are lots of learning adventures ahead! So, grab the kids, climb on board, and get ready for the fun! Please note: white gloves and black pumps are completely optional.
Anthony D. Fredericks (www.anthonydfredericks.com) is Professor Emeritus of Education at York College of Pennsylvania. He has written an array of award-winning children’s books along with dozens of “5-star” adult titles. He is currently the Featured Author (2020-2023) for the York County Library System and the Education Coordinator for Northern Central Railway. He and his wife, Phyllis, live in East York.