Take a Ride in Honor of National Bike Month
Tap into the joy of bicycling with these suggestions to make a celebration of National Bike Month a blast.
By Cathy Neushul
Riding a bike is a rite of passage for most people. You always remember the first time you hopped on a bike, managed to balance, and rode like the wind. In celebration of National Bike Month this May, have your class delve into the many reasons to break out the bike and start pedaling.
Why Bike Riding is a Blast
Introduce this topic with a discussion of the types of activities your class associates with bike riding. You can make a list. Some bike-related activities your class might mention include:
- Riding to school.
- Going on family bike rides.
- BMX racing.
- Participating in bicycle races.
- Mountain biking.
To get your class in the mood to learn about this topic, you could show some videos of bike riding at its most exciting. You could share videos featuring racers in the Tour de France, participants in the X Games, or mountain bikers. Any one of these activities is bound to spark the interest of your students.
Biking Around Town
Next, you can talk to your pupils about how and when they and their families enjoy biking. In some cases, they may bike to school or have parents who bike to work. You can talk about the many people who choose to bike instead of drive. This can lead to a discussion about pollution and the affect cars can have on the environment.
As part of this discussion, however, you should address why many people don’t bike or walk as their primary means of transportation. In some areas, biking or walking can be a challenging and potentially dangerous activity. The issue first came to my attention while reading A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson. He describes taking a detour while walking the Appalachian Trail to visit a Walmart. The road he had to walk along had no sidewalks and no pedestrian zone. It sounded like a scary and disheartening experience. Since reading his book, I started to notice how many streets have areas that are treacherous for pedestrians.
This same issue exists for bike traffic. Your class can discuss which areas in their neighborhoods are the best for biking, and offer suggestions about ways to make their community more conducive to this activity. They can even come up with proposals detailing which areas need dedicated bike paths, bike lanes, or other changes to make biking easier and safer. Take this discussion one step farther by having kids write letters to the city or county officials asking for these changes to be made. This is a great way to incorporate persuasive writing into a discussion about biking.
The Science of Biking
A fun way to kick off a discussion involving the engineering aspects of a bike is with an activity in which students, without looking at a diagram, draw a bicycle from memory. Then, they can discuss their diagrams, what they might have left out, and how these parts work together to make a bike function.
Another way to link this topic to math and science is to discuss aerodynamics. For example, students can talk about the ways bicycles have been redesigned over the years. Bikes are made to go faster, and are stronger and lighter. They can talk about the ways that engineers experiment with different materials and bicycle designs to attain a particular aim. Here is a lesson that can get your class started on this topic. It is entitled, the Aerodynamics of Cycling.
Get Out and Bike
But first, and foremost, a celebration of National Bike Month should include a bike ride. Encourage your pupils to get out and bike in their neighborhood. They will be glad they did.
National Bike Month:
Have your class learn about the scientific principals behind bicycle design. Pupils ride a bike to learn about linear and rotational motion. They also discuss other aspects of circular motion.
Make a math connection. Learners use distance-time graphs from a group of bicyclists to make conclusions. They answer problems involving slope as a rate of change.
Delve into the world of motion. Pupils learn about kinematics, the motion of objects. They use a variety of ways to learn the principles behind the motion of a bike.
Shock absorption is definitely a topic of importance for all bike riders. If you have a bicycle with the best shock absorbers, and a great seat, your ride can be a true pleasure. Here, pupils learn about the way shock absorbers enhance the biking experience.