“Heads on, hands on” in bicycle club

We caught up with Ted Fowler, professor emeritus of education at the University of Cincinnati working with UC’s Office of Innovations and Community Partnerships, about a project he is involved with at nearby Hughes STEM High School – the Hughes Bicycle Club. Student participants break down and reassemble donated bikes to make them work better. The students also ride the finished products. Ted answered some questions about the club.

Q: How was the Bicycle Club formed?

We talk with Cincinnati's Ted Folwer about a STEM-focused bicycle club
We talk with Cincinnati’s Ted Fowler about a STEM-focused bicycle club

A: The Greater Cincinnati STEM Collaborative, in conjunction with the OSLN Southwest Hub, offers STEM Bicycle Clubs as a “heads on, hands on” project that typically engages middle-school students for 10 weeks after classes in Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana. Donations from UC and the collaborative of tools and new bicycles allow students to get their hands dirty taking apart and putting together bikes. The tools and the STEM Bicycle Club program help students to learn about bikes and how to adjust and repair them.

Q: Who can participate?
A: Hughes has a one-week-long spring “intersession” when all students choose a topic for in-depth study. The Hughes students in grades 7 through 12 who participate in the club are those who chose the bicycle intersession. At other schools, students apply for the after-school club and are chosen based on the likelihood of the activity making an impact on their lives.

Hughes students build bikes alongside engineers in a unique program
Hughes students repair bikes alongside engineers in a unique program

Q: What are the club’s goals?
A: Building student confidence and problem-solving skills while reinforcing and bringing relevance to math and science principles taught during the school day. The club also emphasizes bike riding and physical fitness. And, through the involvement of community mentors and coaches from UC, the club exposes students to STEM career possibilities.

Ted says the goal is to help students see STEM careers
Ted says the goal is to help students see STEM careers

Q: What happens to the bikes when the various bicycle clubs are done with them?
A: Most of the bike clubs are set up so that each student takes home a bike to keep. The Hughes effort is set up so that the bikes stay with the school. Bikes can be borrowed for use at home.

Q: Is there anything else readers should know about the club?
A: STEM Bicycle Clubs are supported by the Greater Cincinnati Foundation, Duke Energy, nine area Walmart stores, Time Warner Cable, GE, and many other companies and partners across the Greater Cincinnati region. A variety of support materials have been developed by the foundation.


You can read more about the STEM Bicycle Clubs on the Greater Cincinnati STEM Collaborative’s page. Integrated bicycles into a project at your school? Tell us about it in the comments below.

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