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STEM Bicycle Club teaches life skills, offers options

February 22, 2021

Mary Jane Watson suggests to the girls in her Greater Cincinnati STEM Collaborative (GCSC) Bicycle Club that they name their bikes. The middle school students from Norwood Middle School may look at her funny but she has a reason. “I think it subconsciously gives them a stronger tie to their bike and represents what will happen if they take care of it,” says Mary Jane, who is a Senior Scientist at Procter & Gamble. Using bikes as a tool, middle school girls and boys in the Tri-State area strengthen critical thinking, problem solving and perseverance skills through GCSC’s STEM Bicycle Clubs. Volunteers like Mary Jane serve as mentors at 10 after-school sessions and help students take apart and rebuild new bikes, provided by the program, that they get to keep. “For me, the magic is watching these girls light up when they do something they have never done before,” says Mary Jane. “This could be as simple as tightening a screw.” GCSC is committed to creating a talent pipeline that encourages interest in science, technology, engineering and math, and represents the region’s population; with a particular focus on underrepresented students. Housed within University of Cincinnati’s College of Education, Criminal Justice, and Human Services (CECH), GCSC is a part of the college’s robust community-focused programming, and is overseen by Kathie Maynard, associate dean for Education Innovations and Community Partnerships.

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