Centennial Middle School Receives Grant to Fund Bike Club

January 26, 2022

Centennial Middle School Receives Grant to Fund Afterschool Bike Club


Yuma, AZ – Centennial Middle School has been awarded a $10,000 VELA Education Fund microgrant to fund the “STEM in Motion” Afterschool Bike Club, led by teacher Stefanie Littlewood-Moody. The VELA Fund awarded grants totaling over $3 million through its Fall 2021 microgrant program. These grants are meant to support people and programs that are meeting students’ and families’ unique education needs across the country.

Mrs. Littlewood-Moody began her afterschool bike program to continue the work of educator Karl Ingersoll – now retired – who was instrumental in building the bike track at Centennial Middle School in 2019. “I remember seeing how happy it made the students to be able to do something active and on their own,” recalls Mrs. Littlewood-Moody.

She created a program that would provide students with the resources and knowledge to be able to maintain and repair the bicycles. Students in the club have the opportunity to safely ride the bikes on the school bike track, all while learning and implementing the principles of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM), as well as collaboration and problem-solving.

Before class begins each morning, students in the Stem in Motion Bike Club can be found completing tasks such as watering the bike track, removing debris, changing tires, and fixing bike chains in their “bike shop”. The students must problem-solve according to their task by researching, implementing their plans, and adjusting as needed based on trial and error.  On “Maintenance Mondays” students learn to work together as a team. “The first few days, I had a couple of students who did not want to work together. After sitting down and having a discussion, they realized they were both right. They learned that sometimes there is not only one correct answer. They also figured out really quickly that if they helped each other repair a bike instead of letting only one student work on it, that it would get done faster, meaning we would have more time to ride bikes.”

Mondays are also designated for guest speakers, such as Shaun Chapman from Sonoran Cycles, who spoke to the students about proper maintenance. The rest of the week, the students go out and ride the half-mile track that has obstacles for all level of riders. “At the end of every ride, we circle up and talk about one positive thing that happened either on the track, in the bike shop, or during the day.” The students get to share obstacles and how they overcame them. Mrs. Littlewood-Moody wants her students to focus on their achievements rather than the hardships in overcoming a problem. According to her vision, she’s teaching her students how to fix their bikes, but she’s also teaching them about patience and perseverance.

The bike club members partner with the bike club at the neighboring elementary school, Pueblo Elementary School, where they’ve mentored students in the proper maintenance and use of bikes. According to Pueblo Elementary teacher Denise Nelson, “The Centennial Bike Club was very helpful in preparing our bikes for riding before our club began. Also, their bike track was useful in learning rules and control.”

The grant funds will help purchase repair equipment, tires, and even bicycles since not every club member has their own bicycle. Mrs. Littlewood-Moody has helped fund the club up until now because she sees how valuable the club is for her students. “Riding a bike is something you can do with a group of people or on your own. That’s the beauty of it.”