Learning Physics and Mathematics by means of a bicycle is the latest fun way to master these often difficult subjects!

On Saturday 18 January the first test run within the STEM on the Move project with some Western Cape Learners was conducted at the Faculty of the Stellenbosch University.  Thanks to August Engelbrecht, Head of Recruitment, Faculty of Engineering, it was possible to hold this day at the University of Stellenbosch. The Dean of the Faculty, Prof. Wikus van Niekerk, graced the occasion, to welcome everybody to the start of what may become a way to make Physics and Mathematics more fun and reverse the trend of fewer and fewer learners taking and passing these subjects which are vital to so many professions and careers in South Africa.

The project was initiated by Prof. Dr. Fozzy Moritz, director and CEO of the Innovationsmanufaktur in Munich. He believes that movement brings joy and that students can learn through movement, and in this case movement on a bicycle, which is the teaching tool.

The students from different schools in the Peninsula and Stellenbosch each got one of the university’s Maties rent bikes. Some could ride, but others had to be taught. In accordance with Dr. Moritz philosophy that movement brings joy and fun, they had a slow ride competition. Learners and teachers from Luckhoff Senior Secondary, Stellenbosch, Masibambane High School, Kraaifontein, Protea Heights Academy, Brackenfell and South Peninsula High School, Diep River, attended.

The illustrated talk on the Physics of Cycling was given by none other than a professor from the Faculty of Automotive Engineering, from the University of Applied Sciences in Esslingen, Germany, Prof Dr Hugo Gabele. Using the bicycle as teaching tool he illustrated to learners how the forces of gravity, acceleration, rolling friction and air resistance worked, as well as torque when pedalling, energy and stable and unstable systems.

Learners completed an evaluation form and then had another very useful bicycle learning session: How to fix a puncture! And while some learners were fixing punctures Prof Gabele was teaching a learner how to ride a bicycle! Thanks to the bike experts from Fietsry Stellenbosch Carinus Lemmer, Dawid Botha, Hugo Truter and Tyl Willems the students were wonderfully looked after and could ask all their bike related questions.

Finding a school where this teaching method can be tested and some Physics and Mathematics educationists who can help with educational material in the Stellenbosch area are the next steps to execute the Joy through Movement programme.

The bicycle as a physics classroom: Our event at the University of Stellenbosch was such a hit that the local newspaper used the coverage as a teaser for advertising throughout the city.