Math with Myles

04-04 Math with Myles

Colvin Williams, 8, sketches geometric shapes she sees in a bicycle brought into her third-grade class at Elm Street School. Bicycles are being used to help teach math and science. (Rick Green/Laconia Daily Sun)

Elm Street School student learn geometry with MC Cycle owner


LACONIA — What better way to get third-graders to focus on geometric shapes than having them identify circles, squares and triangles in bicycles?

Myles Chase, owner of MC Cycle and Sport in Laconia, brought a Litespeed road bike, a Felt mountain bike and a bicycle frame into Elm Street School one day last week so the youngsters could identify and sketch the shapes they saw.

Andrew Mercer, the teacher, has arranged for Chase to make several weekly visits. Ultimately, the students will visit Chase in his shop downtown and examine other businesses they read about recently in an article in their hometown newspaper.

The students will discuss angles, materials and safety equipment. They will measure the pounds per square inch in the tires. They will also be making a connection to a local member of the community, the bicycle shop owner. They may even get a couple tips about maintaining their bicycles.

“I've known Myles for a few years now, and the bike just seemed to be something that all of the kids can relate to,” said Mercer, an avid bicyclist. “For me, that was the best point to use because of the number of circles, shapes and lines, and it gives us the flexibility to also talk about PSI and measurements and weights.”

There will also be a competition to keep the kids focused.

“Next week, there will be a relay race, with kids blowing up tires,” Mercer said.

The materials used in making the bicycles will also be discussed, including aluminum, titanium and carbon fiber.

Ultimately, Mercer would like to see the day when Laconia could have a bike-share program in which people could sign out bicycles for a certain period of use.

“How neat would it be to have 20 bikes sitting out here with helmets these kids could use?” he said. “We have the WOW Trail. Let's use it. It's a full-day walk to get downtown. On a bike, we could be there in 20 minutes. It would be awesome.”

The children seemed to thrive on their exposure to math through bicycles.

One looked at a bike frame and identified a scalene triangle, or a triangle with three unequal sides.

Another labeled 11 different shapes on the bikes, and described an obtuse angle as well as a right angle with a 90-degree measurement. Another compared and contrasted the mountain bike with the road bike.

They also got a chance to ask Myles some questions:

Q: “Why does that bike have no pedals?”

A: “We were worried about Mr. Mercer riding it through the hallways. No, we put the pedals on the bike when the bike is sold.”

Q: “What kind of bikes are these?”

A: “This one over here is considered a plus-size mountain bike. Plus size refers to the wheel size. And this one is a road racing bike, designed for pavement only and competitive riding.

Q: “How fast do the bikes go?”

A: “As fast as you can pedal them.”

Q: “How many bikes do you have?”

A: “Personally, I have eight bikes, but in my shop I have over 50 bikes.”

Q: “What are the bikes made of?”

A: “The mountain bike is made out of a metal called aluminum, the frame on that table is a metal called titanium, which is a very lightweight material; and this one isn't metal, it's a fiber, it's carbon fiber, a lot like plastic material.”

Q: “Why are the tires different?”

A: “The tires on this are thin to cut down on resistance. On the pavement, you want less resistance to go fast. We're not going over any dirt or obstacles so we don't need the kind of tread that's on a mountain bike.”