New Experience #18: Pennies on a Railroad Track

I had always wanted to try putting pennies on a railroad track.  I had heard rumors that a train will flatten them as it travels along the track, but I wanted to see it for myself.  I knew my children had never heard of anyone trying this, so I thought New Experience #18 would be a fun experiment for all of us.

We were a bit nervous about getting so close to the tracks, but I purposely picked a track with a long straightaway.  We would see a train long before it got close to us.  We laid our pennies and an old game token on the tracks and walked at least 30 feet away.  As we waited, we discussed what we thought might happen as the train rolled over our coins.  Leah didn’t think anything would happen.  Luke thought the pennies would fall off the track.  Neither of them guessed that the pennies would be flattened.

The kids put their hands over their ears as the train rumbled by.  Once it was gone, we ran over to the track.  We were all amazed to see the coins flattened on the tracks.  It was now difficult to see any detail of Lincoln’s head or any of the wording on the coins.  I asked the kids why they thought the coins were so flat.  Luke thought it was simply because the train was heavy.  I agreed, but I wanted him to realize one other important point.  The train’s wheels are made of metal, so they act differently than a car’s wheels.  We placed a couple of pennies near my car and I drove over them.  Nothing happened to the pennies at all.  We compared the pennies and the differences in the wheels of cars and trains.  New Experience #18 was simple, quick, and fun for all of us!


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New Experience #1:  Starting 2012 With a Shock

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About 52BrandNew

I am a single stay at home mom who is determined to live life to its fullest.
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19 Responses to New Experience #18: Pennies on a Railroad Track

  1. What a great way to chronicle your kids’ experiences!

    Cheers to great parenting!

    Courtney Hosny

  2. manstruth says:

    No before after photo?

    • 52BrandNew says:

      You know, I really wish I had more photos of this experience. I am not a natural photographer. I am more of a live in the moment kind of person. I have to force myself to remember to take photos. Once the train came, we were busy getting the pennies and I forgot. My kids still have the pennies. I really should take a picture of them now.

  3. Andrea Villegas says:

    we used to do this as kids near my grandma’s house. loved reliving it reading the blog.

  4. I LOVE this. Makes me wish we lived closer to some train tracks …

    • 52BrandNew says:

      We had to travel to our train tracks– about 15 or 20 minutes. We do have train tracks in our town, but I didn’t think they looked like a safe place to do this.

  5. I like all the safety details you worked into this – standing back, and picking a location with excellent visibility. And the car extension is brilliant.

    • 52BrandNew says:

      Thanks, Maryanne! Glad you thought the car extension was a good idea. I really did think it up at the spur of the moment, but that was one of the biggest learning moments.

  6. One thing I’ve admired is your bravery. This sums up your entire blog – 52 brand new experiences! I wouldn’t have thought of this, glad it was a success!

  7. Charlotte says:

    Wow, looks like they had fun! I would be nervous too, but safe risks are the best fun!

  8. Valerie @ says:

    What a cool experiment! I would love to see the flatten penny 🙂 I like that you did it with the car too. I also really like that you took lots of precautions to make sure your kids were safe, good job mom!

  9. Wow what a great idea! I dont think I would have the guts to do this myself but I will be showing this post to my daughter as I think she would love the idea. x

  10. I think driving over the pennies with the car really made this an even greater learning experience. I would have never thought to actually try something like this myself. How long did you have to wait for a train to come by?

    • 52BrandNew says:

      I thought of driving over them with the car at the last minute. It really did help my kids see that the train’s wheels are different than the car’s wheels. We waited about 10 minutes for the train to come by.

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