As teachers become more and more pressured to teach for the test, other specialist subjects like music and art have been pushed aside or removed altogether. At Green School, art has always been integral to the students’ education, and a popular pop-up Bamboo Bike Building workshop revealed that this new practical approach to art fuels creativity, collaboration, and community engagement.
What started as a seven-day workshop, quickly grew into a six-week program, and now aims to become a permanent part of Green School. The goal of the intensive program was to make functional bamboo bikes, to promote clean and sustainable transport, and to build a network of local trained builders. Led by Visual and Practical Arts Teacher Jason Gutzmer, and the legendary bamboo bike builders Craig Calfee and Mark Donovan, the course transformed the Heart of School building into a production space, creating more than just bikes.
Students incubated ideas, designed, hypothesized and tested collaboratively in groups and fired-up power tools to bring designs to life. Applying skills and knowledge in geometry and physics along the way is emblematic of the Green School approach to learning. “There’s something about taking numbers off a page and bringing them to life that makes learning fun “ said one of the high schoolers. After completing the construction of a BMX, a mountain bike, a city-adventure bike, a cargo bike, an electric beam bike, and an electric tadpole trike, the students still wanted to learn more. Following the students’ lead, Pak Jason integrated bamboo bikes into a six-week program to build an electric bamboo bike and cargo trailer that the school’s Kembali Recycling Facility could use to collect recycling throughout the village.
Pak Jason says it has sparked creativity in so many of the students, including Kai Young-Lee, an 8th grade student who will apply this newfound knowledge to his Middle School Quest project – to build a solar powered electric bike. Senior, Leeland Gentry will also ride the prototype mountain bike he built with Kai, and Pak Jason as part of his Greenstone project (See last year’s Greenstone Talks here) and product testing for Mark’s new company.
To continue offering experiential learning programs like this, Pak Jason has designed plans to create six mobile maker stations. Each station will be equipped with a set of the basic professional tools and safety equipment for real world building and fabrication projects, like bamboo bikes, bamboo carpentry, upcycling workshops, sculpture, applied sciences, screen printing, and more. Each rolling workstation can be used from all sides or the students can push them together to make a long island assembly area.
The limitless applications of this endeavour to the practical and integrated arts will add another special element to the Green School experience. If you are a fan of enterprising youth and progressive education, you can play a role in supporting and following this endeavour by contacting us via our website at ‘Support Us’.