Wednesday, February 15, 2006

building a bicycle wheel

I'm setting out to build my first bicycle wheel from parts (hub+rim+spokes). I'm very excited.

Since I'm so preoccupied with schooling and education lately, all I can think of is how to relate wheel-building to education. Specifically - wouldn't this be a wonderful thing to teach in school?

First and foremost, you would be connecting students to everyday objects. We are so alienated from most of what we rely on day to day. Who knows how to fix their car? Or their computer? Or even sharpen their own kitchen knives? People need to learn that things are built according to a set of comprehensible principles and skills - they don't just spring fully formed from the back room at walmart. The world we live in is not incomprehensible, and we don't have to be reduced to helpless consumers.

Second, teaching people to do useful things with their hands is highly undervalued in our educational system.

Third, imagine all the physics and math you could teach while building a bicycle wheel: Metallurgy & materials, statics, geometry and trig. Anyone who found this stuff interesting could learn most of their high school math and science curricullum, simply from studying how a bicycle wheel works.

So, I'm going to write a series of posts here on the bicycle wheel, specifically on my own attempt to build one. There is already ample information out there about how to build wheels, and about how they work. So my goal will be more to provide a bibliography, and provide some coherent breakdown of the topic so that it might be more easily introduced to interested kids.