Travel Town Study Guide


at Griffith Park’s


5200 Zoo Drive  /  Los Angeles, CA 90027-1472  /  (southwest of the 134 and 5 freeway interchange)

P.O. Box 39846 - Griffith Station  /  Los Angeles, CA 90039  /

Nancy Gneier, Executive Director     323-668-0104   /  Operations Office & Birthday Party Reservations     323-662-5874


(1)  Print out a copy of this Study Guide.

(2)  Be sure to bring a tape measure, calculator, stopwatch, and pencil & paper on which to record your observations (qualitative data) and measurements (quantitative data).  You might want to bring a camera to document your fieldtrip, too.

(3)  Wear sturdy shoes for climbing over rails and up into the cabs of some of the locomotives; no flip flops!  Also, bring water to drink and a hat if it's a hot day.

(4)  If it is Saturday, the hot dog man may be there around lunch-time.  The Gift Shop has many interesting souvenirs.  And a ticket to ride the train costs $2.50.  My point?  Admission may be free, but bring some cash with you if you want to make any of these purchases.

(5)  Plan to spend about two hours on your field trip.  The activities on the Study Guide may be completed in any order.  If you have been assigned only certain sections, agree on a time and place to meet with other members of your group to share and discuss your findings.

(6)  Complete whatever diagrams and calculations were assigned in your Study Guide, and turn it in to me the next time you come to class.  Learn something...and be ready to tell us about it!


1.  DIAGRAMING SIMPLE MACHINES:  Look around the park for examples of the six simple machines.  Diagram one example of each of the below on a separate piece of graph paper.  Try hard to draw each diagram to scale.  Even though you aren’t measuring their magnitude, remember to show the direction of force vectors, especially the LOAD (force of resistance) and EFFORT (force of effort).

SIMPLE MACHINES: Lever, Wheel & Axle, Pulleys & Gears, Inclined Plane, Wedge, Screwand, some springs, too!

2.  CALCULATING IMA:  Pick three of the simple machines above.  Measure their dimensions, especially the effort arm and the load arm.  Determine the Ideal Mechanical Advanatge (IMA) of each.


3.  CONVERSION TO MECHANICAL ENERGY:  Find the three types of locomotives here.  Try to explain how they move.  Use a diagram (a labelled drawing)!

        TYPES OF ENGINES:  Steam, Diesel, Electric

Suggest an advantage and disadvantage of each of the three types of locomotive engines.

4.  THERMODYNAMICS:  Explain the difference between an external combustion engine and an internal combustion engine?


5.  MATERIALS & DESIGN:  Over by the train station, find the exhibit with the three types of railroad track and ties.  Which set of ties is probably the oldest?  Which one is probably the newest?  Why did you choose this way?

6.  STRUCTURE & DESIGN:  Look at a railroad rail, especially in cross-section.  Diagram it.  Why do you think a rail is shaped the way it is?


7.  SPEED:  (OPTIONAL)  Take a ride on the Travel Town Railroad ($2.50/rider), and calculate its average speed.  Explain how you did it.

8.  DISTANCE:  Don't measure, but estimate the distance the train travels around Travel Town.  Explain how you did it, record any calculations you had to make and note any assumptions you had to make to perform this estimation.

(Mark Pichaj, 2009)