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STANDARDS

CCSS: 6.EE.A.2, 6.RP.A.3, MP1, MP2, MP4

TEKS: 6.4E, 6.6C, 6.10A

Mini Masterpieces

How a model train display at the New York Botanical Garden comes to life

Xinhua/Wang Ying/Newscom

Lights twinkle in New York City as a train weaves through its streets. The train zooms right past the Statue of Liberty, but instead of copper and steel, the statue is made of palm leaves and dried flowers! That’s because this is a model train exhibit at the Holiday Train Show, held at the New York Botanical Garden (NYBG) in New York City.

Every winter, the NYBG and other botanical gardens around the U.S. host displays of miniature cities made out of plant parts. Model trains travel through petite cities, passing by downsized landmarks like Yankee Stadium and the Brooklyn Bridge. The NYBG show is the largest holiday train show in the U.S.

This year, the NYBG Holiday Train Show features about 175 buildings and nearly half a mile of train tracks. Each tiny statue, building, and bridge is made by a company called Applied Imagination, which is based in Kentucky. “You feel like a giant standing in this tiny, glowing city,” says Laura Busse Dolan, owner of Applied Imagination. “It’s magic.”

Lights twinkle in New York City. A train weaves through its streets. The train zooms right past the Statue of Liberty. But instead of copper and steel, the statue is made of palm leaves and dried flowers! That’s because this is a model train exhibit at the Holiday Train Show. It’s held at the New York Botanical Garden (NYBG) in New York City.

Every winter, the NYBG and other botanical gardens around the U.S. host holiday train shows. They display miniature cities made out of plant parts. Model trains travel through the cities, passing by tiny landmarks like Yankee Stadium and the Brooklyn Bridge. The NYBG show is the largest holiday train show in the U.S.!

This year, the NYBG Holiday Train Show features about 175 buildings. It has nearly half a mile of train tracks. Each tiny statue, building, and bridge is made by a company called Applied Imagination. The company is based in Kentucky. “You feel like a giant standing in this tiny, glowing city,” says Laura Busse Dolan. She’s the owner of Applied Imagination. “It’s magic.”

Artists at Applied Imagination create three to seven new buildings for the NYBG show every year. First, the artists collect photos of a landmark they want to re-create. Then they build a “skeleton” of the building using a sturdy foam board. The replicas are not made to scale. Instead, the artists stretch the proportions so the buildings don’t look short and squat.

Once the skeleton is ready, the artists glue plant parts on it for decoration. They use tree bark as roof shingles, baby acorns as doorknobs, and black bamboo as wrought iron. Finally, the whole structure is covered with a liquid that hardens to protect the plant material from decomposing. Each building can take hundreds of hours of work.

When they are done making the buildings, the artists ship them to New York City. It then takes three weeks for workers to set up the display. This year, the NYBG Holiday Train Show features more than 25 model trains zooming around on several tracks. The display covers an area of 13,000 square feet. The event attracts more than 200,000 visitors each year.

Visitors of all ages love it. “The kids are bouncing all over the place,” says Cindy Johnson, the lead artist at Applied Imagination. “They run wild with the trains.”

Artists at Applied Imagination add new buildings to the NYBG show every year. They usually create three to seven new additions. First, the artists collect photos of a landmark they want to copy. Then they build a “skeleton” of the building out of sturdy foam board. The replicas are not made to scale. Instead, the artists stretch the proportions. This keeps the buildings from looking short and squat.

Once the skeleton is ready, the artists glue plant parts on it for decoration. They use tree bark as roof shingles and baby acorns as doorknobs. Black bamboo becomes wrought iron. Finally, the whole structure is covered with a special liquid. It hardens to protect the plant material from breaking down. Each building can take hundreds of hours of work to make.

When the buildings are ready, the artists ship them to New York City. It then takes three weeks for workers to set up the display. This year, the NYBG Holiday Train Show features more than 25 model trains. They zoom around on several different tracks. The display covers an area of 13,000 square feet. The event attracts more than 200,000 visitors each year.

Visitors of all ages love it. “The kids are bouncing all over the place,” says Cindy Johnson. She’s the lead artist at Applied Imagination. “They run wild with the trains.”

Use tape diagrams to solve equations about the New York Botanical Garden’s Holiday Train Show and how Applied Imagination builds it. Record your work and answers on our answer sheet.

Use tape diagrams to solve equations about the New York Botanical Garden’s Holiday Train Show and how Applied Imagination builds it. Record your work and answers on our answer sheet.

The New York Botanical Garden’s Holiday Train show is open all 7 days of the week during the winter season. The show is open for a total of 56 hours per week, how many hours is it open per day? Solve using a tape diagram.

The New York Botanical Garden’s Holiday Train show is open all 7 days of the week during the winter season. The show is open for a total of 56 hours per week, how many hours is it open per day? Solve using a tape diagram.

Applied Imagination used 14 times as much bark on the Brooklyn Bridge as on the Statue of Liberty. Artists used 45 pounds of bark in total. How many pounds of bark did they need for the Statue of Liberty? Solve using a tape diagram.

Applied Imagination used 14 times as much bark on the Brooklyn Bridge as on the Statue of Liberty. Artists used 45 pounds of bark in total. How many pounds of bark did they need for the Statue of Liberty? Solve using a tape diagram.

The Brooklyn Bridge replica for the NYBG show took 3 times as many hours to build as the Statue of Liberty replica. It took 600 hours to build both of the replicas. How many hours did it take to build the Brooklyn Bridge replica? Solve using a tape diagram.

The Brooklyn Bridge replica for the NYBG show took 3 times as many hours to build as the Statue of Liberty replica. It took 600 hours to build both of the replicas. How many hours did it take to build the Brooklyn Bridge replica? Solve using a tape diagram.

For one display, the track is set up like a figure eight with two loops. Loop A is 3 times longer than Loop B. A model train completes a full circuit of both loops 16 times per day. In total, the train travels 1 mile every day, that’s 5,280 feet!

For one display, the track is set up like a figure eight with two loops. Loop A is 3 times longer than Loop B. A model train completes a full circuit of both loops 16 times per day. In total, the train travels 1 mile every day, that’s 5,280 feet!

A. How long is Loop A in feet?

A. How long is Loop A in feet?

B. How long is Loop B in feet?

B. How long is Loop B in feet?

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