Hazen Union Students are Mastering the Art of Bicycle Mechanics and Gaining Critical STEM Skills
Students working on bike with teacher

When you step into one of Hazen Union’s classes, you might think you’ve just wandered off the bike trail and into a local mechanic’s workshop. And you’d be right on track.

“Can you hand me the torque wrench?” queried a student in teacher Maxfield English’s bike tech class. On a snowy December day, students are busy fixing chain assemblies, working on pedals, and assessing needed repairs for new bikes coming into the shop.

It’s all part of the hands-on education students are getting in the semester-long class. Many of the young apprentices are outdoor and bike enthusiasts. Others are taking the class to hone mechanic skills that they can apply to other trades when they graduate from Hazen. “I love working on cars and would like to work as an auto mechanic one day,” commented one student. The class can be a solid stepping stone to college engineering classes, a career as a bike technician or mechanic, or careers in cycling fabrication, marketing, or sales.

Using bicycle mechanics as a conduit to teach STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) concepts to students is something that held considerable appeal to Maxfield English when he rolled out the Project Bike Tech course at Hazen in 2022, only the second course of its kind in the state of Vermont. “Students who complete this course with a grade of 3 or better not only master the art of bicycle mechanics, but also pedal their way to a coveted Level I Bike Technician certification. That can unlock doors to careers and further STEM education,” commented English. You can learn more about Project Bike Tech and the work they do in schools at https://projectbiketech.org/.

The learning extends beyond the Hazen classroom. Last October, the bike tech class dedicated several weeks to assembling 12 brand new bikes and delivering joy on wheels to Wolcott Elementary students for their bike skills program. Perhaps in the future, those same K-2nd graders will find themselves in a bike shop at Hazen Union, asking their classmate for a torque wrench and a hand with reinstalling a crank arm.