The world’s most beloved blue engine rolled into the Reading Public Museum and is on view through May 14, 2017. Thomas & Friends: Explore the Rails is an interactive, hands-on exhibit, and is locally sponsored by East Penn Manufacturing and Penn State Health St. Joseph.
Featuring the favorite engines and destinations from Thomas & Friends, the STEM (Science Technology, Engineering and Math) focused exhibit seeks to engage children and families in foundational skills that foster 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.
Visitors to the exhibit will be delighted as they find themselves surrounded by the Island of Sodor’s iconic locations: Knapford Station, Sodor Steamworks and much more. In the exhibit, children help Thomas and his friends solve a variety of challenges, from a simple sorting and shape identification activity to more complex engineering obstacles, such as completing a train track using track pieces with different levels of elevation. As children confront new challenges and test their abilities, the smiling faces of Thomas, Percy, Victor and others are there to offer encouragement and remind children how “really useful” they all are.
Inside the Exhibit
- Climb into Thomas’ cab and explore the engine’s inner workings. Flip levers and investigate other move-able 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.
The Thomas & Friends exhibit was designed and developed by Minnesota Children’s Museum in partnership with HIT Entertainment, a subsidiary of Mattel, Inc.