The visit to the Remakery has sparked some of the children’s imaginations. They have seen many things being built, all out of salvaged scraps, and the possibilities seem endless. They now have extra materials to use and feel somewhat more confident using simple tools. The den projects is moving along nicely. There are also other projects and interests coming along – a new interest in sewing, a mosaic project out of a box of bottle caps that was collected, and of course the construction of the storage unit is now nearly complete.
One of the children has taken an interest in bicycles. He already cycles to the venue sometimes and has his bike on site, as does one of the facilitators. During Homespace they often spend time admiring each other’s bikes and one day, during he starts asking about gears, and informs the facilitator that he already knows how to pump and even change a tyre. As they get talking, he starts asking more and more difficult questions. How do hydraulic brakes work? What tool do you need to take the chain off? What is the lightest bike in the world.
They start to research some of these questions together and build their understanding of bikes. One day the facilitator brings in a chain breaker and they remove the chain from one of their bikes. They then remove the tyres and clean the bike, studying the parts. This attracts some of the other children’s attention and they join in the cleaning and assembling.
As they continue their explorations, the child occasionally makes reference to the mechanic he observed at the remakery. She used a certain type of oil. She replaced the long gear cable. How is that done? The facilitator starts to feel out of her depth!
The facilitator takes the initiative to research the bike mechanic at the Remakery. She finds out that she was a trainee with a project called Pempeople. She contacts the project and finds out that the mechanic is setting up her own workshop and looking for opportunities. They discuss the possibility of the mechanic spending a day at the venue fixing parents’ and children’s bikes for a fee, with some of the children supporting her. The mechanic is interested in this possibility.
At the next SDM, the facilitator suggests the visiting space. Several of the children have now developed a passing interest in bike maintenance and vote to host the visitor. There is a group of 4 children who are interested in this Hosting Space. They meet with the facilitator after the SDM to plan the Visiting Space. The following is discussed:
- Starting a hosting space requires the children to be present for the duration of the hosting space. It is agreed that the mechanic will visit for one afternoon, which is two hours. This means that the children are expected to be present for the duration of this period.
- They discuss the space available for the bike mechanic workshop to take place and how that might interfere with other space users.
- They discuss how they are going to bring bikes to be fixed and agree that they will speak to their parents and that an email should be sent to all parents, since not all bikes will need fixing! If a particular child is interested in writing, they may want to work with a facilitator to write the email to parents. Otherwise, the facilitator will do this.
- One of the children has also been developing an interest in photography and the facilitator suggests that she brings her camera to take pictures of the event. She agrees, though also wants to do some bike mechanic work!
On the day of the hosting, three bikes are brought in. One requires a puncture to be fixed, another requires a seat to be lowered and the mechanisms to be cleaned and oiled, and the third requires a full service. The mechanic has brought some extra tools and explains what she is doing as she fixes the bikes. At times the children observe, and at times they help out. As the session progresses, some of the other children drop in to take a look and some of them stay while others depart again to continue with their own self-directed activities.
Following this visiting space, the children’s interest grows. The child who initiated this adds ‘old bicycle’ onto the Buzz Board. Within a week an old bicycle is procured with some tools which children can disassemble and assemble to practice their bike mechanic skills.
The mechanic has also benefitted by gaining three customers. An arrangement is agreed whereby she visits once a half term. This date is shared amongst parents, friends of the venue and neighbours. She spends the full day at the venue fixing bikes, and those children who are interested can watch, practice and learn.