Members of a school’s unicycle club are expanding their horizons by learning about urban cycleways.Yes, Arahoe School in Auckland has a unicycle club. At lunchtime, students go into the PE shed to borrow one-wheeled bikes to ride.
Teacher Megan Connolly says the school initially bought unicycles to support a unit of circus-themed learning.
Megan, herself a unicyclist, started teaching at the school three years ago. About six months into the job, she saw a student ride past her on one of the unicycles. Megan saw the potential and started the lunchtime club.
“It was me and about three kids to start. By the end of the term it was about 20 kids who could ride and it went from there.”
At the time of this visit, Charlie, Kohki, Luca, Marshall, Leandro, Leila, Layla and Ania demonstrate their skills, mounting the unicycles, riding around and doing tricks like bouncing on the spot.
Megan says some students who excel at unicycling have learning needs in the classroom and being good at something has proved motivating. They enjoy school more and end up reading and writing about their new interest.
“Students also learn about resilience. The kids who learn are the kids who keep getting back on,” says Megan.
“They are building creativity and learning there’s no limits to what they can do. You can always challenge yourself to go further and further.”
The school bought more unicycles and introduced a licence scheme. Any student can apply for a learner licence.
Once they demonstrate proficiency, they gain a full licence, which allows them to borrow unicycles during lunchtimes.
“To get a full licence, you have to be able to show that you can keep control. You can keep away from people around you, you can stop and you can control the direction you take,” says Megan.
She says it is quite safe to learn to ride unicycles.
“You can only go as fast as you can pedal, unlike a bicycle where you can pick up speed and coast. If you fall off, you land on your feet.”
Megan and the unicycling club enrolled in a LEARNZ virtual field trip about the Waterview Shared Path, a new cycleway and footpath in Auckland.
The Arahoe students watched video interviews with the cycleway designers.
“They were so engaged. They were reading and writing about the cycleway,” says Megan.
She is planning to take the students to the actual shared path during Term 4 so they can explore it on their unicycles.
Here’s what some students say about the virtual field trip.
Charlie: “It made me think we should get more shared pathways because they’re great. You can do whatever you want on them. I’m looking forward to exploring there.”
Layla: “It was interesting because then more people can bike and walk and scooter around now, rather than just using their cars in the city. It’s nice to just get outside rather than being inside a car.”
Kokhi: “I think it will be fun to visit, because I’ve never been there, only by car. So, I want to have a good look around it.”
Marshall: “It’s useful for people to get around, getting fresh air and not where the cars are driving. They’re riding through places they wouldn’t have got to, if they were in their cars.”
All the videos, article and teaching resources from the Waterview virtual field trips remain online for schools to use.