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Bloomington Students Get Hands On With Motorcycle

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(credit: CBS) John Lauritsen
John Lauritsen is a reporter from Montevideo, Minn. He joined WCCO-...
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BLOOMINGTON, Minn. (WCCO) — There is a classroom at Bloomington Kennedy High School where you won’t find any books, or any pens or paper for that matter.

It’s what Kevin Baas, a technology instructor at the school, calls “hands on” learning, and at Bloomington Kennedy it’s a roaring hit.

“When you are a tech kid you want to be hands on. You don’t want them to read a book, you want them to apply what they are learning,” said Baas.

Years ago Baas began bringing some of his bikes to school, and the kids began coming to his classroom. It wasn’t long before he realized he could teach them engineering skills through motorcycles.

“I have 4 or 5 kids by the end of that year, 9 or 10, by the end of that next year, and the year after 15 to 20- and it’s just taken off,” said Baas.

It’s become so popular that the class receives donated parts from across the country. They build one or two bikes a year, and students like Montana Schowalter have been a part of award-winning competitions.

“For me to have a class like this, it makes my day. It makes me want to come to school,” said Schowalter.

“This is the bike they finished this year. The only thing it needs is a generator and a coil and it’s good to go. But the finished product isn’t nearly as important as the road it took to get here.”

For Baas, that’s the hands-on knowledge that can only come from a motorcycle.

The Chopper class had an open house at Bloomington Kennedy High School Friday afternoon. The bikes they make are sold, and the money they receive goes into building more bikes.

They said 99 percent of their parts come from donations. They have received donations from Florida, Arizona, South Dakota, Wisconsin, and other companies nation-wide.

“For the big picture, I want these kids to know that I believe in them. I think this will help them roll off into their futures,” said Baas.

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