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Sustainability Lesson Clearinghouse

Rail Riders

Lesson Description:

In this lesson, students discover how trains provide eco-friendly transportation. They compare the amount of energy used by trains to other modes of transportation, and create geographic “snapshots” of train routes in order to gain a first-hand insight into the wide variety of travel opportunities trains offer.

  • Students will compare the rate of energy use and other environmental impacts of automobile, plane, and rail travel. 
  • Students will calculate the energy used by selected train routes and compare the energy used by automobiles traveling the same distances as these routes. 
  • Students will construct a geographic representation of selected train routes, including major cities, physical terrain, and miles traveled. 
  • Students will evaluate the sustainability of different modes of transportation.

Lesson Type:
  • Discussion
  • Project

Sustainability Topic:
  • Economics
  • Energy

GEF Program Category:
  • I Ride Green

Time Needed:
60-90 minutes
Materials Needed:
  • Rail Riders Classroom Presentation 
  • Rail Riders Handout (five copies) 
  • Amtrak Routes guides (at least one copy for each route) 
  • Colored pencils 
  • Large poster paper (five pieces) 
  • Small scrap paper (five pieces)

School or Group:
Green Education Foundation (GEF) on behalf of Amtrak
Contact Email:
Lesson Documents:
application/pdf Rail Riders Handout.pdf
Tags for searching:
Amtrak , eco travel
Located in: Science | Math | Social Studies

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