Learning In Motion

Education Tours & Classes at the Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania

All Aboard! Learn about America’s transportation heritage through the use of hands-on activities, primary sources, vintage vehicles and artifacts from the Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania’s world-class collection. A variety of guided walking tours, workshops and outreach programs offer interactive experiences for students in the preschool through secondary levels and beyond.

We are more than just a history museum. Our education programs satisfy specific academic standards not only in history, but also in math, science, language arts, geography, economics, and the arts, among other subjects. Our programs also encourage students not only to ask questions but also to use critical-thinking and problem-solving skills when thinking about how people in the past overcame challenges related to technology and transportation.

School Tours & Classes

A.    Primary

1.     Working on the Railroad “A” (Recommended for Preschool-Grade 3/Ages 4-8)

During this tour, through hands-on interaction and role-play, students will explore some basic railroad jobs.  Students will visit the passenger depot and get their train tickets, build a section of track, shovel coal into a locomotive’s firebox, and board a passenger coach, where they will get their tickets punched and imagine riding a train from long ago.  (90 minutes)

 

2.     Working on the Railroad “B” (Recommended for Grades 4-5/Ages 9-10)

During this tour, through hands-on interaction and role-play, students will explore some basic railroad jobs.  Students will sort mail as railway postal clerks, inspect trains as freight conductors, use flag signals as brakemen, and load and unload baggage from an authentic wooden passenger train as baggage handlers.  (90 minutes)

 

B.    Intermediate

1.     Trailways, Railways & Roadways (Recommended for Grades 6-8/Ages 11-13)

During this class, students will use vintage maps, photos and primary sources to explore the trials and tribulations of travel between Philadelphia and Pittsburgh during several time periods.  They will employ critical-thinking and problem-solving skills to compare and contrast how the technology of travel and the experiences of travelers have evolved over two centuries.  Primary sources, historic images, and artifacts from the Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania’s collections provide the context for this informative program.  (60-90 minutes)

 

C.     Secondary

1.     Parade of Power Tour (Recommended for Grades 9-12/Ages 14-18)

During this guided walking tour, students will explore the evolution of locomotion, from the humble beginnings of steam locomotion in the early 19th century through the diesel-electric and electric trains of yesterday and today.  At the same time, they will learn about the people who used that technology and what it was like to work on the railroad.  Several historically significant locomotives and rail cars from the Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania’s collections will be featured during this tour, and students will have an opportunity to climb aboard several of them.  (60 minutes)

Traveling Programs

A.    Working on the Railroad (Various Audiences; 20-25 participants maximum; 60-90 minutes)

In a show-and-share format, the instructor will use a trunk filled with visual aids and artifacts, like tools, lanterns, uniform items, dining car china, and ticket punches, to help participants explore the various jobs of railroaders throughout the history of rail transportation.

 

B.    Live Steam Demonstration (Various Audiences; 20-25 participants maximum; 60-90 minutes)

The centerpiece of this program is a miniature working steam model that the instructor uses to demonstrate the physics of steam locomotion and all its applications.  With the help of historic artifacts, photos and other visual aids, participants will explore the evolution of locomotion, from steam to electric to diesel-electric.

 

C.     K’NEX Rail Lab (Various Audiences; 20-25 participants maximum; 60-90 minutes)

Working in small groups, students use K’NEX building kits and other learning aids to explore various themes related to railroading, including: bridges; levers and pulleys; wheels, axles & inclined planes; and gears.

 

D.    Railroad Slideshows (Various Audiences; 100 participants maximum; 30-60 minutes)

Do you need a guest speaker for a dinner, meeting or special event?  Our popular railroad-themed slide lectures are designed for the enjoyment of those attending business meetings, banquets and other social gatherings.  Several titles are available.  Please call to inquire.

Workshops

  1. Railroading Badge (Ages 12-18; 6-15 participants maximum per program; 7.5 Hours)

The Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania is the perfect setting for boys and girls involved in scouting to earn badges in railroading, working with historic artifacts and model trains. Workshops are held on Saturdays, except holidays and special-event weekends. All requirements are fulfilled in a single day. (Arrangements can also be made to ride the Strasburg Rail Road. Fees for the train ride are separate from Railroading Badge fee with the Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania. You must make arrangements on your own to schedule a ride. The train does not run January through mid-February.)

 

  1. Workshops for Troops:

Most classes are booked in advance by troop on Saturdays (no holidays or museum special-events days). Classes require a strict minimum of six scouts and a maximum of fifteen scouts. Troops may be combined. A $50 deposit is required at least one week prior to the class. The balance is due on the date of the visit.

 

  1. Workshops for Individual Scouts:

We also offer two Saturday workshops per year (one in May and one in October) that are open to participants who register in advance. Full payment is required with your reservation. Space is limited to a maximum of fifteen scouts. Scouts must be accompanied by an adult.

Summer Camps

A.    Barons & Builders Summer Day Camps (Ages 9-10, 11-12; 15 participants maximum per week-long session)

Children learn new skills, have fun and make friends during a five-day summer day camp.  There are two sessions: one week for ages 9-10 and one week for ages 11-12.  Explore railroad history through hands-on activities, demonstrations, arts and crafts projects, model-train building, special behind-the-scenes tours, and a field trip by train.  Reservations are accepted beginning in early March for a limited number of available spaces.

Self-Guided Groups

A.    Group Admission (Various Audiences)

For groups with limited time or who would rather walk around on their own, another option would be to schedule a self-guided walking tour.  Group rates are available.  Optional scavenger hunt sheets are also available upon request.  For more information, please contact the Museum Educator.

Stewart Junction

Open daily until 4:30pm

A.    UPDATE: Please pardon our dust!  Exciting new exhibits are being developed.  Some new exhibits are coming Summer 2018!  Discover something exciting for railroaders of all ages in Stewart Junction: The Railway Education Center.  On the outside, Stewart Junction is designed to look like a 1915-era freight station.  On the inside, Stewart Junction is filled with many fun and challenging interactive exhibits relating to Pennsylvania’s rich railroading heritage.  With model trains of all shapes and sizes, exhibits in Stewart Junction teach about how railroads work and what they do in ways that our full-size trains cannot.  In addition to our massive G-scale switching layout, there is an HO-scale model railroad, a LEGO building zone, books and videos, and several toy-train play tables for our younger audiences.

To Schedule A Program, please contact Troy A. Grubb, Museum Educator, at 717-687-8628 x3022 or trgrubb@pa.gov.

When You Call:

  • Preferred date of your visit, as well as 2-3 alternate dates
  • Number of students and chaperones (Be aware of our group size limits for each program you choose.)
  • Age or grade level and any special needs of students
  • Time of arrival
  • Length of time allowed for your visit
  • Program(s) of choice
  • Do you have reservations to ride on the Strasburg Rail Road? Have you scheduled visits with other area attractions? If so, please let us know when you must depart the Museum.

Reminders:

  • Prices in this guide are subject to change.
  • A minimum of 10 paying visitors is required to qualify for group discounts. (Groups may be combined.)
  • Museum membership does not apply to group education programs.
  • We require at least one adult chaperone for every ten students at all times.
  • Every effort is made to adhere to the schedule, so please arrive on time. If your group is more than 30 minutes late, we reserve the right to cancel the program, offering a self-guided option instead.
  • Leave enough time for restroom breaks, as well as visits to the Whistle Stop Shop, our museum store.
  • Reservations cannot be made on days when the Museum is closed. See “Hours of Operation” for details.

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