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Flip Fast! High-Speed Trains

Just how fast is a high-speed train? Design a train, then move it at amazing speed with a flip book.

  • Grade 5
    Grade 6
    Grades 7 and 8
  • Multiple Lesson Periods
  • Directions

    1. Students read about high-speed trains. Learn why so many countries use them. High-speed trains have a futuristic, aerodynamic styling. The cars are semi-permanently attached with two ends of adjacent cars resting on a shared two-axle truck. Shinkansen, Japanese bullet train lines, opened in 1964, were the first high-speed railways. Acela (acceleration excellence) trains whiz between Washington, D.C., Boston, and New York City. Europe’s Eurostar connects London and Paris. What else can students discover about these ingenious inventions?
    2. Students find out about flip books. Study the secret to making drawings seem to move. When making a flip book, work from the page next to the cardboard back to the front of the pad. Flip from back to front.
    3. Make a high-speed train flip book! Use Crayola® Erasable Colored Pencils to draw a simple high-speed train on cardboard. With Crayola Scissors cut around the train. This will be your stencil. Place the very front of the train stencil on the last page of a small note pad. Trace it. Lift the stencil, open the next page, and place the stencil down about the width of a toothpick in front of where it was before. Repeat tracing until the entire train can be seen on the page. Flip the pages on the pad and watch your train in motion.
    4. Fill the background. Use Crayola Watercolor Paints to create background scenery on each page. How does the scene change? Cover the art area with recycled newspaper. Use a damp Crayola paintbrush to paint horizontally over the scenery. The blurred result will help to achieve a high-speed effect. Air-dry the scenery.
    5. Color the trains. Outline each train with a black Crayola Fine Line Marker. Liveries are trademark designs that identify different trains. Europe’s Eurostar has a blue roof and bright yellow front. America’s Amtrak has horizontal red, white, and blue stripes. Design a bright, colorful livery for your train. Color it with colored pencils. Try plaids, polka dots, or checks! Have fun flipping!
  • Standards

    LA: Read with sufficient accuracy and fluency to support comprehension.

    LA: Write informative/explanatory texts to examine a topic and convey ideas, concepts, and information through the selection, organization, and analysis of relevant content.

    LA: Demonstrate command of the conventions of standard English capitalization, punctuation, and spelling when writing.

    LA: Engage effectively in a range of collaborative discussions with diverse partners on grade level topics and texts, building on others' ideas and expressing their own clearly.

    LA: Present claims and findings, emphasizing salient points in a focused, coherent manner with relevant evidence, sound valid reasoning, and well-chosen details; use appropriate eye contact, adequate volume, and clear pronunciation.

    SCI: Ask questions about the natural and human-built worlds.

    SCI: Construct drawings or diagrams as representations of events or systems.

    SS: Give examples of the role of institutions in furthering both continuity and change.

    SS: Show how groups and institutions work to meet individual needs and promote the common good, and identify examples of where they fail to do so.

    VA: Intentionally take advantage of the qualities and characteristics of art media, techniques, and processes to enhance communication of experiences and ideas.

    VA: Select and use the qualities of structures and functions of art to improve communication of ideas.

  • Adaptations

    Possible classroom resources include: Superfast Trains by Mark Dubowski; Fast Trains: America's High Speed Future by Emy Louie; How Does a High-Speed Train Work? by Sarah Eason; Ultimate Trains (Machines of the Future) by Peter McMahon;

    Working small groups, students sketch a bulletin board size world map. Students trace high-speed train routes on their map. Next, students select one high speed train and research the culture and history of cities and regions on its route. If you were a passenger on this train, what would you see? Students compose journal entries describing what sights are seen while traveling on board.

    Maglev, or magnetic levitation, test trains are being developed all over the world. Their top speeds are more than 500 kph, or 300 miles per hour. How do these trains work? What advantages to they have over conventional trains? Students design a poster, plan a commercial, or devise an advertising campaign to convince an audience of the environmental, safety, and economic benefits of this new technology.


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  • Creativity.
  • Capacity.
  • Collaboration.
  • Change.
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