Transport, Supply, and Exploration: How Ships Change Our World

by Ryan Felix, age 12

    Ships are super-sized boats that weigh more than 1,000 tons. There are many different kinds of ships. The first were large wooden ships, powered by sails or oars. They were used as early as 300BC.
    Two important discoveries made modern ships possible. The first was using iron or steel to construct them. The second was the invention of the steam engine, which meant ships were no longer dependent on the wind for power or direction.
     Super tankers are the largest ships today and can weigh up to one million tons when loaded. Another type of modern ship is the cargo carrier. There are two different kinds. The bulk carrier transports large solid material such as coal, while the container ship carries preloaded containers that fit on trucks and trains.
    Passenger ships, or liners, are primarily used to take people from one continent to another. A ferry takes people and/or cars short distances over water. Warships were developed to fight wars. There are many kinds of warships: destroyers, cruisers, submarines, and battleships. The aircraft carrier is the largest warship, usually weighing about 80,000 tons. 
    Ships are intended to have many different uses. They can be used in war or to transport people or things. They have many different features that make them cool to look at. Ships have played an important roll in human history and continue to fascinated people even today.

[Sources: National Geographic; King Fisher Children Encyclopedia]