By Anna-Claire Terry
Chris Rhodes, physical education teacher at Morris Avenue Intermediate School, and the Opelika Bicycle Advisory Council have set out to teach young students in the area a healthy new hobby. Bikeology will be taught in physical education classes at Morris Avenue Intermediate beginning March 28.
The O.B.A.C. was created to make Opelika a more bicycle- friendly city, and Rhodes was selected as the educational representative. The concept of a bicycle class was already in the works when the Bikeology curriculum was released. “I was going to come up with one myself, but when Bikeology was released, the framework was already laid. I just had to adapt it for our grade levels because it was originally created for middle school and high school aged students,” Rhodes said. “It’s going to be a six-week unit with a sports education teaching model, which is where one class is divided up into different groups. It will be during their 40-minute P.E. class. It’s a good model that allows us to take curriculum from the classrooms and plug it into physical education.”
Rhodes said students will begin with learning the basics of the bike. There will be units on maintenance and bicycle safety. “We’ll go all the way from studying the parts of the bike to group riding in six weeks,” Rhodes said. The Bikeology unit is based on national and state standards for physical education.
Rhodes said the long-term plan is to get Bikeology into all Opelika intermediate schools and to allow students to develop a new hobby that can spread fitness throughout their families. Rhodes also added that Dr. Shirley Lazenby. president of O.B.A.C., has been a driving force of Bikeology. “She’s the brains behind a lot,” he said.
The board of education gave the program $8,000 to purchase equipment. Fifteen brand new bicycles and plenty of helmets and bike pumps were purchased from James Bros. Bikes. James Bros. Bikes will also serve as a sponsor of the program. “They’ll be an important part of the program when we actually start riding because the owners, Danny and Amanda James, are going to come teach the kids safety checks and tune the bikes up every week.”
The first fifth grade class to begin Bikeology will be a trial run, and Morris Avenue is expected to expand the curriculum to other classes and grade levels by next year.