Come and check out the electric slide

Come and check out the electric slide
Elizabeth Graham

Patiently waiting for the subway, ever wonder what makes New York City’s 108-year-old system run?

Well, it’s electricity.

At a hands-on, interactive exhibit inside the New York Transit Museum, visitors get the chance to explore where that electricity comes from, and how that electricity is transmitted over gaping distances to power a subway system that moves over 4.3 millions riders a day.

“In the wake of Hurricane Sandy, understanding our dependency on power, how we get it, and how it can be disrupted is even more relevant than ever,” said Gabrielle Shubert, the museum’s director. “This exhibit helps unlock some of those mysteries.”

At the long-term exhibit entitled, “ElectriCity: Powering New York’s Rails,” museumgoers can spin a giant wheel that generates an electrical current and watch the spark scale up a Jacob’s ladder.

Visitors can also manipulate solar panels and windmills to capture energy, test what types of metals conduct electricity, and learn how power is transferred from the third rail to the train’s electric motor at other installations.

“The exhibit is wonderful. It’s very interactive for the kids and the experiments that they do are really simple and digestible,” said museumgoer Nicole Cadoret Kensington, who brought her 5-year-old son Bennet to the museum.

Other visitors had a newfound appreciation for the exhibit as they toured it in the wake of the superstorm that crippled the city’s transit system.

“I don’t think we realize how much we rely on it until it’s down and people can’t get to where they are going and the whole city goes crazy,” said Manhattan resident Rochelle Friedlich. “This exhibit helps you appreciate all that goes into making it run.”

And if the train-crazed youngsters can’t wrap their head around the science of electricity, they’ll have a blast flipping switches, cranking wheels, and building model motors.

“I’m learning about the subways,” said six-year-old Sam Esposito of Cobble Hill. “The switches light up when you turn them on – it’s cool!”

“ElectriCity: Powering New York’s Rails” at the New York Transit Museum [130 Livingston St. between Schermerhorn Street and Boerum Place, (718) 694–1600, www.mta.info/mta/museum]. $7 adults, $5 children and seniors