Wheelies as teaching and learning medium in technical lessons
The student-technology-academy has got five wheelies which primarily serve the school students not as vehicle and not for pure fun, but as teaching tool. The didactic strength of this medium lies in the combination of technical complexity and attractiveness. Thus, the Wheelie offers a number of occasions with regard to a practice-oriented involvement with technology-oriented thinking and procedures, such as assembly, optimization, analysis, manufacturing, etc.
With the help of the project it becomes very evident that technical instruction at school should not be reduced to the mere processing of any materials in the sense of classic handicraft lessons. Instead, the entire process from the idea to the implementation, utilization and disposal of a product should be taken into account. In this context, it is characteristic for technology that during the whole process each step is constantly evaluated in order to save or reduce time, effort, money or any other negative properties (e.g. environmental impact) through optimization.
The Wheelie serves as a motivating occasion with regard to a number of such ways of thinking and procedures: For example, when analyzing the driving qualities, the school students discovered that the steering behavior particularly became unsteady in case of higher speeds (the Wheelie achieves a maximum speed of up to 18 km/h) and ground waves due to the handlebar not being fixed in its neutral position. Every group of school students finally developed an own approach solving such problem.
In this process, the school students experience almost all phases of the product development, product utilization and product evaluation. Thus, it becomes apparent how complex, diversified and creative engineering activities might be. In this context, it is remarkable that most of the groups only make use of the teachers´ or the lecturers´ help in case of any questions of detail; in doing so, they largely achieve their objectives set themselves in an independent and self-reliant manner. Every group presented its results and faced up to an unbiased discussion. The best solution was finally implemented, that means manufactured, assembled and objectively evaluated on the occasion of a road test.