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Solar Powered Trains at the Science Museum

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The following appeared August 31, 2007 in the

"Solar Express Opens At The Science Museum"

    The South Florida Science Museum is bringing energy conservation and Florida history to their outdoor, interactive science trail with a solar train display. Aptly named the “Solar Express,” the official opening of the interactive display is scheduled for Sept. 1.

     Visitors will have the opportunity to push buttons and in order to move two model trains around a G-Scale sized town, as well as activate other mobile displays, including a carousel, within the “town.” One child will be selected to receive a model train set, conductor’s hat and be the first to push the button and start the train.

    The solar panels are hooked up to a charge controller, deep cycle batteries and a power converter that converts 12 volts DC to 110 volts AC. This allows the reserve power to be stored for days, even during cloudy periods.

    “Florida is the Sunshine State, so it makes sense to design the train system with solar power,” said Rick Newman, founder of the Boca Raton-based “I wanted to design the Solar Express to help increase environmental awareness for children and families. Also, Florida was founded on its railroads so it gives a bit of a local history lesson, too.”

    The Solar Express layout contains a 1950s model cattle/freight train and a passenger train. “It harkens back to the established East Coast Railroad days, when train travel was still a large part of daily transportation,” Newman said.

    The model town and train set up contains more than 500 pieces including model houses, a windmill, farm and other details. The entire exhibit was donated by Newman and other alternative energy corporate sponsors.

    “It makes a wonderful addition to our outdoor science trail, which has seen a lot of expansions and renovations recently,” said museum exhibits designer/director Carlos Santos, who assisted in designing the Solar Express layout, including the creation of the solar panel supports and control housings. “The Marshall Foundation recently helped restore our wetland area and we have new butterfly beds planted as well. The Outdoor Science Trail is a true gem, and the Solar Express is the perfect addition.”

    The South Florida Science Museum is currently in the middle of the public phase of a 54 million dollar capital campaign to build a state-of-the-art science center.

    This unique and comprehensive center will be a symbol of the community’s cultural strength and commitment to education. The South Florida Science Museum is located at 4801 Dreher Trail North, West Palm Beach in the north end of Dreher Park.

Visit or call 832-1988 for more details.

    For more information about the Solar Express Trains, visit

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