The bike is an engineering system centered on a transparent technology that promotes freedom of movement and thus has the potential to democratize mobility and access. As an accessible technology it allows for tinkering, redesigning, repairing, customizing, re-mixing, repurposing, building, and re-building. This project uses bikes and biking to introduce STEM content and experiences to traditionally underrepresented youth (grades 9-10) by having them participate in place-based informal learning activities. The researchers along with community organizations work together to plan and facilitate a summer institute and cohort sessions during the academic year. The youth will engage in STEM learning in their community by creating and contributing knowledge that informs their own learning in topics like science, engineering, and biomechanics.
The goal of this project is to use bikes and biking learning experiences to advance STEM, human-centered engineering, and science frameworks through the assets of an urban, community-based youth organization. The project will impact 96 students in grades 9 and 10 in an urban setting. Data will be collected before, during, and after summer and fall/spring sessions over the course of three years. The main data sources will be observations of, and videorecording of all sessions; semi-structured interviews with youth, peer mentors, instructors, team members and community partners; and, youth produced project artifacts, and planning and design, modules, and institute artifacts. This asset-based approach will be accomplished through four overlapping foci: (a) applying the STEM processes (engineering design principles and scientific practices) of rebuilding bikes; (b) understanding the biomechanics of bikes and biking; (c) using the bike as a medium to experience and uncover STEM phenomena in the community; to (d) transform youth STEM identities. This project will get youth interested and engaged in STEM by having their understandings represented based on how they engage with and apply engineering principles to rebuild bikes, the actual bike rebuild, youth discussions as well as interactions with peers and instructors/facilitators.
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