Transportation Systems

The goal of most transportation systems is to facilitate the rapid, safe, and economical movement of people and goods. Transportation systems can include traveling on foot, on horseback, on camel, on bicycle, by car, by train, by boat, by subway, by airplane, and many more ways.

We are very dependent on transportation systems for the quality of our lives. Trucks, trains, boats and barges--these all transport goods. Transportation systems deliver all the food to grocery stores, all the toys to toys stores, all the televisions and computers to electronic stores, and all the medical supplies to hostpitals and doctors' offices. Airplanes transport our mail, and mail trucks deliver it to our homes. A bus may deliver you to school.

Sample some of the following activities to learn more about transportation systems.


Places To Go    People To See    Things To Do    Teacher Resources    Bibliography

Places To Go

The following are some places to go (some real and some virtual) to find out more about transportation systems.

America on the Move
Travel through four different time periods to find out how people have used transportation throughout time.
Golden Spike National Historic Site
The National Park Service has collected information on this important event in transportation history that took place at Promontory Summit, Utah in 1869.
Heber Creeper
The Heber Valley Historic Railroad's history began in 1899, when trains served the pioneers who first settled the valley. In the early 1970's, the railroad became the "Heber Creeper," a tourist passenger train operating on a seasonal basis.
Hill Air Force Base Museum
The museum has several sections dedicated to different parts of history. Their website has historical information as well as pictures of the planes and the people who flew them.
The Museum of Flight
The Museum of Flight in Washington State has a varied collection of air craft as well as space craft materials.
National Air and Space Museum
"The Smithsonian Institution's National Air and Space Museum maintains the largest collection of historic air and spacecraft in the world. It is also a vital center for research into the history, science, and technology of aviation and space flight."
San Francisco Cable Car Museum
Visit San Francisco's Cable Car Museum. The museum provides historical perspective on the importance of the cable car to the city as well as insight into the cable car system's current operations.
Visit NPS Maritime Parks
Check out all the ships that the are in the National Park System. Each ship is historical in its own way such as the USS Arizona and USS Constitution. Find out why. There are also a collection of lighthouses.
The Wright Brothers: The Invention of the Aerial Age
This online exhibit from the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum gives a historical background as well as a detailed timeline.

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People To See

Ask Propellerhead
Propellerhead answers your most burning aviation trivia questions, whether silly or serious.
The Life of Henry Ford
Learn about the life and work of Henry Ford creator of the Model-T Ford automobile.
Ole Evinrude
If you have ever used a small boat engine you have Ole Evinrude to thank for it.
Telford the Builder of Britain
Learn more about the Scottish stonemason turned civil engineer. Telford improved the method of building roads by building roads with broken stones and analyzing road traffic, road alignment and gradient slopes. His design eventually became the norm for all roads everywhere.
William E Boeing
Read about the man who started Boeing Aircraft and his mark on history.
The Wright Brothers
Find out about these aviation pioneers. Do you think that Wilbur and Orville were popular names for the time? They had two older brothers, Reuchlin and Lorin, and a younger sister, Katharine. Wilbur was four years older than Orville.

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Things To Do

The History of Transportation
This detailed timeline created by starts in 3500 BC and ends with the space shuttle in the 1980's.
How a Car Engine Works
Cars are one of the most popular systems of transportation in the world. Using this site, you can find out everything you ever wanted to know about internal combustion systems.
How Bicycles Work
Other than by walking, more people travel by bicycle than by any other system of transportation. Bicycles have been around since the early 1800's. Find out why early bicycles were called boneshakers as well as other elements of bicycle history. Don't forget to always wear a helmet when cycling. Did you remember that the Wright Brothers owned a bicycle shop where they repaired bikes and even made their own bicycles.
How the Wheels Got Turning: A Historical Perspective on American Roads
Read this article to learn about the development of a system of roads in America.
HowStuffWorks: Airplane
In this article, you will walk through the theory of flight and see the different parts of a standard airplane, and then explore many more links to learn even more.
In the spring, follow the Iditarod. Doug Swingley was the top musher in 1999.
Paper Airplanes
What is your system for making a really good paper airplane? (It's a known fact that airplanes constructed during Math fly higher, stronger, and longer). The world record for the amount of time a paper airplane has remained aloft is 27.6 seconds.
New York City Subway
The New York City subway is famous. Find out what other big cities have subway systems. At this site, you'll find information about the history of the New York subway system, how it was built, and information about other subway systems around the world.
Roller Coaster
Is a roller coaster a system of transportation? Where exactly does it take you? A roller coaster has no engine. What makes it go? From this interesting site, learn about the conversion of potential energy to kinetic energy which is what drives a roller coaster.
Utah Department of Transportation (UDOT)
Their motto is "Going the extra mile." Is it snowing and you're on your way to Logan and you're worried about making it through Sardine Canyon? From this site, you can check on road conditions for all interstate routes throughout Utah. Or you can call their 24-hour automated road condition information by using any Utah-based phone by simply dialing 511. Outside Utah, you can access the same information by dialing toll-free 866-511-UTAH (8824).
United States Department of Transportion
From the main page, select "Bureau of Transportation Statistics" to find travel statisitcs for every state.According to this site, during 1995 about 92% of the households in Utah took one or more long-distance trips of 100 miles or more. People in Utah travel more--because the national average for such trips is 80%. The most popular destination states for travelers who live in Utah are Nevada, Idaho, and California. Idaho, Nevada, and Colorado are the most common origin states for travelers TO Utah.

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Teacher Resources

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  • Badt, Karin Luisa. Let's Go! Chicago: Childrens Press, c1995.
  • English, June. Transportation: Automobiles to Zeppelins. New York : Scholastic Reference, c1995.
  • Kalman, Bobbie. Wings, Wheels, and Sails. New York, N.Y.: Crabtree Pub. Co., c1995.
  • Kerrod, Robin. Transportation. New York: Marshall Cavendish, 1994.
  • Lambert, Mark. Transportation. New York: Thomson Learning, 1993.
  • Pluckrose, Henry Arthur. On the Move. New York: Franklin Watts, 1998.