Building innovation at BVMHS — a cargo bike and Bevin’s skiff

June 5, 2014

By Monica Maniaci

Forget what you think you know about Bay View Middle & High School. The school and its students are on the cusp of a new era of innovation and creativity. With two major projects in the works, students from BVMHS are successfully employing their engineering, math, science, technology, and art/design skills. They are building a working boat that will be launched in the Humboldt Park Lagoon this spring, and a cargo bike that will be used by Kompost Kids.

Skiff
The boat (a Bevin’s skiff) is a collaborative project between Bay View Middle & High School, Artists Working In Education (AWE), and All Hands Boatworks. The 7th and 8th grade construction students are working with volunteers from both groups to learn about the science and math of boat building.

BVMHS students named their Bevin’s skiff Red Cat. It is 12 feet long with a 4½-foot beam and will accommodate three people or a total weight up to 450 pounds.       CREDIT Monica Maniaci

BVMHS students named their Bevin’s skiff Red Cat. It is 12 feet long with a 4½-foot beam and will accommodate three people or a total weight up to 450 pounds.       CREDIT Monica Maniaci

“While small groups are working on the skiff, other groups are working to understand how boats work, how they float,” said Steve Vande Zande, Creativity and Innovation Program Implementer at Bay View Middle & High School. “They built a penny boat out of wax and paper to understand buoyancy and weight distribution, and they created small scale sailboats to understand how wind power works.”

The students also created model boats that they painted, using color charts to understand principles of design. They’ve done a lot of color theory and design work,” Vande Zande said. “The boat they are creating will have the form and function of a boat but its physical appearance will be one that is artistic, like a floating painting, by the time it’s done.”

This sort of learning is the basis of the educational goals at Bay View Middle & High School. The school adopted the STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art, and math) program this past year and the boat building process combines all aspects of learning. “The kids are highly engaged in the boat building process. When you talk about creative problem solving and design thinking, this is really the epitome of where we’re moving in the school. The content becomes very hands on, very collaborative, and the learning becomes very organic in nature,” Vande Zande said.

The students named their skiff Red Cat. It is 12 feet long with a 4½-foot beam and will accommodate three people or a total weight up to 450 pounds. The boat will be on display in the school and in the community, and BVMHS is making plans for its permanent home.

Cargo Bike
Several other 7th and 8th grade students at Bay View Middle & High School are creating a cargo bike for Kompost Kids, a local, volunteer-run, non-profit organization that collects compost. Kompost Kids approached Bay View Middle & High School as a client in need of a cargo bike. The students listened and created inspiration boards. Then they came up with designs for the cargo bike, chose a favorite design, pitched it back to Kompost Kids, and they have been working on it ever since. “It’s a great opportunity to work cooperatively,” Vande Zande said.

The cargo hold, on the front of the bike, is designed to haul eight five-gallon buckets of compost. “They could have put the cargo hold anywhere and they chose to put it on the front, which is great,” Vande Zande said.

BVMHS students took a preexisting bike, cut it apart, and redesigned it as a cargo bike. They built the cargo hold from scratch and did the welding themselves. CREDIT Monica Maniaci

BVMHS students took a preexisting bike, cut it apart, and redesigned it as a cargo bike. They built the cargo hold from scratch and did the welding themselves. CREDIT Monica Maniaci

The bike’s total weight capacity is 320 pounds. “This was a primary consideration in the design. The students calculated the weight capacity during the first week of class. Issues directly related to weight that students addressed include the arrangement of the cargo to allow even spreading of weight, choosing a braking system that can operate reliably under heavy loads, the strength of the building materials, the arrangement and geometry of supporting members, and the ability to steer and handle the bike under heavy load,” said Emmett Gross, an architect and bike builder who is working with the students on the bike project.

They took a preexisting bike, cut it apart, and redesigned it. They added a cargo hold that they built from scratch. The kids did all of the welding. “They absolutely loved it,” Vande Zande said.

About 30 kids are working on the bike project. There is a design team, a gear team, a welding team, and an assembly team. “Right now the design team is creating a canvas cover for the cargo hold so they can stencil the logo directly onto the canvas,” Vande Zande said.

The students have been working on both the boat and the cargo bike since March 3 and will finish both before the end of the school year. These creations are proof of the positive changes that are happening at Bay View Middle & High School; combining academics with team work and personal development for a progressive, forward-thinking education.

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