Choo Choo! Come Play at the New Thomas the Tank Engine Exhibit

Staff Writer
Baystateparent Magazine

The world’s most beloved #1 blue engine is rolling into the Bay State this spring!

A hands-on, immersive and interactive exhibit inspired by Thomas the Tank Engine will be at the Springfield Museums. Thomas & Friends: Explore the Rails will be open for play May 25-September 8.

Featuring the favorite engines and destinations from Thomas & Friends, the STEM (Science Technology, Engineering, and Math)-focused exhibit seeks to engage children, ages 2 through 7 years, and families in foundational skills that foster STEM literacy through playful learning experiences.

The exhibit incorporates foundational STEM practices that encourage thinking mathematically, making comparisons, experimenting to solve problems using a variety of methods and tools, thinking creatively and reflecting on actions and results.

“The skills and proficiencies children learn and refine through play in the early years set the stage for future learning and success,” said Larissa Murray, Director of Education at the Springfield Museums. “Thomas & Friends: Explore the Rails will deliver so much fun with the added benefit of learning experiences rooted in STEM skills.”

“This is not an exhibit people visit just to look at,” said Family Engagement Coordinator Jenny Powers, “this is an exhibit about doing and figuring things out and having fun all at the same time.”

Here is some of what is in store:

· Climb into Thomas’s cab and explore the engine’s inner workings. Flip levers and investigate other moveable parts that trigger train noises such as braking, whistles and steam.

· Fix Percy’s wobbly wheel by removing and replacing parts and experimenting to find a combination of wheels, rods and bolts that work.

· Explore the favorite Island of Sodor destinations including: Tidmouth Sheds, Brendam Docks and the Sodor Search & Rescue Station on an over-sized Thomas Wooden Railway train table.

· Work with old and new friends loading luggage, livestock and other freight into the coaches of two train cars.

· Collaborate with others to get Percy moving by loading coal into his coal box and filling his tank with water from a water tower.

· Suit up as the conductor to exchange money and sell tickets to other visitors taking a ride on the train.

· Wander through a Thomas & Friends retrospective featuring model engines from the original live action series produced in London, copies of the original drawings and manuscripts from the Rev. W. Awdry, the creator of Thomas & Friends, and a collection of memorabilia documenting the history and evolution of Thomas & Friends through books, television, and toys.

Museum hours are Tuesday through Saturday, 10 a.m.- 5 p.m.; Sunday 11 a.m.-5 p.m.; and Monday (June 17-August 26) 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Admission is $25 for adults, $16.50 for seniors and college students, $13 for children 3-17 and kids under 3 are free.