MR@MoS

Disappointing. That’s all I can say. The Museum of Science had announced a special one-day members-only preview of their new model railroad exhibit, so of course I had to go.

“What does it have to do with science?” asked Barbara.

Not much, apparently. But that wasn’t its main problem. In fact there were bigger reasons for disappointment, although I did learn an answer to Barbara’s question.

As you can see in the image, the setting was a winter landscape in Boston. So far, so good. But the entire exhibit was tiny (you can see a quarter of it right here), with very little track and very few trains, even for something that emphasized scenery and structures.

The science (or math) connections, though slender, were actually the only real morsels of interest here. Speaking as a geometry teacher, I would say that both connections had to do with similar figures, though most people would characterize them in some other way. One was an explanation of scale. They demonstrated HO, O, and G scales — using working model trains and giving some (minimal) calculations. The related connection was an explanation of perspective, especially what modelers call forced perspective, where the decision to place large objects or trains in front and small ones in back enhances the viewer’s sense of depth, since our brains automatically interpret the small one as being farther away. That was nice.

But still… if I had made a special trip in for this, I would have been really disappointed. At this point I’ll look forward to a real train show.



Categories: Dorchester/Boston, Model Railroading, Technology