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Things That Roll

You don't have to wait until you're sixteen to get your own pair of wheels. The items in this collection all roll, from skateboards to in-line skates, and most of them are great fun and great exercise. The best of both worlds!

Roller Skates

The first roller skate design was introduced in 1760, but the four wheels of the skate couldn't move, so it was hard for a skater to turn. Another design, called the "rocking skate" came along in 1863 and fixed the problem. Since then, roller skates have been used in every age since, especially in the 1970's, when people did roller derbys and hung out at the skating rink, dancing along to disco music.


Rollerblades are a mix between roller skates and ice skates. This design is otherwise called an in-line skate, since all the wheels are in one single line. The trademark "Rollerblade" has been around since 1983. When a user skates on in-line skates, they can often go faster than they would if they were using roller skates. Rollerblading is a very popular means of exercise.


A scooter with a platform, handlebars and two wheels that a user moves by kicking is called a "kick scooter" or a "push scooter." Even though newer scooters are coming out with engines, the old fashioned human-powered scooter has been around for about 100 years. Children love them, so do adults. Scooters come in many various designs, with some four-wheeled scooters that look like skateboards becoming popular.


The Segway hit the market in 2002 with a splash. You might have seen one before. It is a two-wheeled electric power transporter where the rider stands on a platform and pushes on a tall handlebar and the vehicle moves them where they need to go. The Segway can motor as fast as 12.5 miles an hour and balances itself, so the driver doesn't need to worry. There are sensors inside to make sure it is always heading in the right direction.


Skateboards first came on the scene in the 1950's in California. A decade later, they were being produced and distributed throughout the United States. A skateboard is a board with four wheels on it that can pivot. A rider places one foot on the board and pushes it along with their other foot. Some riders can do tricks and ride half-pipes. Another version of the skateboard, the longboard, is longer and thinner, with softer, larger wheels.


A tricycle, or trike, is a bicycle with three wheels. The root for the word "tricycle," or "tri," means "three." With a tricycle, there is a front wheel and then two wheels in the back. The rider often sits between those two wheels and low to the ground. Tricycles are best for beginning riders who don't have their balance and don't want to ride a two-wheeled bike just yet.


The unicycle evolved in the 19th century from the penny-farthing, a bicycle type of contraption with one huge front wheel and a very small back wheel. Once that second wheel fell away, the unicycle was left: just a wheel, a Y-shaped frame and a saddle for the rider. Using a unicycle takes a lot of leg strength, not to mention balance!


A little red wagon is a lot of people's fondest memory from childhood. The iconic wagon was designed by a carpenter in 1917 and hit the market in 1930 with the name Radio Flyer. Children will recognize this red wagon, even though the company now makes tons of children's vehicles, from fire engines to cars, at their Chicago plant.


Wheelbarrows are a big help in the garden or on the construction site. A typical wheelbarrow can hold up to six cubic feet of materials, all on just one wheel! The principles at work involve a person standing behind the wheelbarrow and holding the handles with both hands. This lifts the wheelbarrow off the ground and, with enough balance, it can ride safely. When it isn't moving, the wheelbarrow rests on a propping leg that hangs from the bottom.