Education

8th Graders in Michigan Get Their Motors Running

By Sean Cavanagh — December 07, 2004 1 min read

In the military, “chopper” is a soldier’s familiar shorthand for a helicopter. In civilian circles, it’s accepted slang for a tooth, or, in the plural, a mouth full of them.

But for students at Western Middle School in Parma, Mich., that term has come to mean only one thing: a full-blown, custom-built, extended front-end motorcycle, with a value of at least $20,000.

“It’s definitely a scary machine,” says teacher Ted R. Densmore, who means that in a good way.

This semester, 8th graders in Mr. Densmore’s Engine Tech class are building a motorcycle from the pavement up, with only a minimal amount of instruction from their teacher. They have received help from a national motorcycle-parts dealer and a local supplier, who provided the materials.

Eighth graders at Western Middle School build a custom motorcycle.

Mr. Densmore says most students in the elective class have previously struggled academically. This project—one of several repair-and-construction tasks in the class—is requiring them to use math and science, in such basic but essential steps as measuring diameters and threads-per-inch for bolts and holes to secure pieces of the choppers. Students are expected to research the assembly on their own, through manuals, the Internet, and other sources.

Their goal: a fully ridable chopper, the model known for its high handlebars, stripped-down look, and long front, popularized by Peter Fonda in the cult movie “Easy Rider.” The school’s progress can be viewed at schoolhousechoppers.com.

School officials plan to enter the finished product in bike-show competitions. Next fall, they are likely to sell or raffle it off and use the proceeds to bring another chopper to life.

Tom Applegate, a past president of the Association for Career and Technical Education, in Alexandria, Va., credits officials in the 2,800-student district with finding a project that combines problem-solving with a topic that is sure to appeal to students.

“One of the skills we all need is the ability to locate information,” Mr. Applegate said. “It’s a very imaginative use.”

Let us know what you think!

We’re looking for feedback on our new site to make sure we continue to provide you the best experience.

Events

This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Future of Work Webinar
Digital Literacy Strategies to Promote Equity
Our new world has only increased our students’ dependence on technology. This makes digital literacy no longer a “nice to have” but a “need to have.” How do we ensure that every student can navigate
Content provided by Learning.com
Mathematics Online Summit Teaching Math in a Pandemic
Attend this online summit to ask questions about how COVID-19 has affected achievement, instruction, assessment, and engagement in math.
School & District Management Webinar Examining the Evidence: Catching Kids Up at a Distance
As districts, schools, and families navigate a new normal following the abrupt end of in-person schooling this spring, students’ learning opportunities vary enormously across the nation. Access to devices and broadband internet and a secure

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Data Analyst
New York, NY, US
New Visions for Public Schools
Project Manager
United States
K12 Inc.
High School Permanent Substitute Teacher
Woolwich Township, NJ, US
Kingsway Regional School District
MS STEM Teacher
Woolwich Township, NJ, US
Kingsway Regional School District

Read Next

Education Obituary In Memory of Michele Molnar, EdWeek Market Brief Writer and Editor
EdWeek Market Brief Associate Editor Michele Molnar, who was instrumental in launching the publication, succumbed to cancer.
5 min read
Education Briefly Stated Briefly Stated: December 9, 2020
Here's a look at some recent Education Week articles you may have missed.
8 min read
Education Briefly Stated Briefly Stated: Stories You May Have Missed
A collection of articles from the previous week that you may have missed.
8 min read
Education Briefly Stated Briefly Stated: Stories You May Have Missed
A collection of stories from the previous week that you may have missed.
8 min read