Every few years, I find an excuse to engage in one of my favorite old-school projects, rebuilding and repainting a kids bicycle.
Let’s paint some flames.
I mean, dragons. We will paint dragons.
This project is approachable for middle-school and high-schoolers. High-interest elementary school kids can definitely accomplish parts of this project with help from an involved adult. This project does involve dangerous fumes, so great ventilation and respiratory masks are a must. Be prepared to give over your work space for a three days to a week and a half to this project.
This project teaches basic competencies in graphics software, cutter plotter use, mechanic’s tool usage – wrenches, ratchets, etc., and paint prep and execution. These skills are directly transferable to manufacturing, automotive and graphic arts fields (for my fellow CTE/Shop teachers out there). Bike mechanics earn about $12 per hour nationally, offering a student an entry point into the skilled trades.
In school, I began with donations from student families. I then taught my students how to use tools and the basics of gears, force, torque and work. We fix’m up and get the bikes running. At the end of the experiment, we would give the bikes away to kids who need them. Workshop Houston began with a similar model and Cycle of Houston has given away 100,000 bikes in just over ten years of existence. Bikes can and do change a child’s world by offering opportunities to develop balance, judgement and freedom in the wider community.
Update: I’ve since found my write up from 2011. This is my second or third version of this project.