Although Robert Fulton is usually remembered as the inventor of the steamboat, it was actually John Fitch who built the first successful steamboat in 1787. Unfortunately, John Fitch ran into financial difficulties which opened the door for Robert Fulton to design and test the Clermont, which was the first commercially successful steamboat, in 1807. Since that time, there have been many improvements on the initial design, but the science behind the steamboat engine is fascinating.
Educational Innovations carries Putt Putt Steam Boats that are wonderful reproduction toys, which can be used to teach many scientific principles. The science behind how they work is rather complex and often disputed. Read the rest of this entry »