Each of 48 Atkins students received a Schwinn StingRay, purchased by the T-STEM
Center, to assemble and redesign.
Texas Tech University’s School of Art in the College of Visual and Performing Arts,
and the T-STEM (Texas-Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) Center, along with
Atkins Middle School, present the Lowrider/Dream Bike Parade.
This is the fourth year that the School of Art has partnered with a school from the
Lubbock area in presenting an art bike project. However, K-12 academic outreach has
not been part of the equation. The T-STEM Center, part of a State of Texas initiative
designed to motivate and prepare more K-12 students for careers in science, technology,
engineering and mathematics, is working with the School of Art to help teachers use
the lowrider bike project to reinforce and apply the science and math concepts that
the students are learning in the classroom.
Atkins is 79 percent minority and 78 percent of students come from economically disadvantaged
families. The school is working to remediate its Texas Assessment of Knowledge and
Skills (TAKS) scores from a 2007 School Accountability Rating of Academically Unacceptable.
“Seeing the excitement and enthusiasm on these students’ faces is a perfect reminder
of why an integrated approach to STEM education is so important,” said John Chandler,
a director of the T-STEM Center.
“When you give students engaging opportunities to learn – like designing a lowrider
bike – they remember the concepts forever. The School of Art is to be commended for
reaching out to the students at Atkins with a project that combines art and science
in a context that every middle school kid cares about – a really cool bike,” Chandler
This year Future Akins-Tillett, assistant professor in visual studies, worked with
Atkins art teacher Lyn Brown, science teacher Dawn Bullock and 48 of their students.
Each student involved received a Schwinn StingRay, purchased by the T-STEM Center.
Akins-Tillet says the partnership with the T-STEM center has helped take the project
to new heights.
“We have worked with LISD twice before, we just never worked with T-STEM. Problem
solving is always a vital part of creativity. This year, with the help of T-STEM,
we had working bikes to begin with which added emphasis on assembling the bikes,
taking them apart and putting them together again the way the kids visualized them.”
Sharpening Skills; Problem Solving
Brown said that aside from being a great art project, one of the program’s objectives
is to sharpen the students’ upper-level thinking skills and common sense, which would
help them on a standardized test.
Students put their newly assembled Schwinn StingRays through their paces at Safety
“Mostly, it’s the problem solving that I’m really excited about because our students
need to be able to take any content they’ve learned in any area, apply it and solve
problems. The questions on the TAKS are application questions. So they have to find
a way to understand what the question is asking, read
through the possible choices, and see what makes sense and what doesn’t.”
Thinking outside the box
Students have been working on designing their bikes and disassembling them for construction
Texas Tech Visual Studies students, along with others, lent a hand to the students
in “tricking out” the bikes for the parade.
Also participating in the parade is Texas Tech’s kinetics sculpture class, led by
Will Cannings, associate professor of sculpture. Their recent creations focus on
designing, rethinking and expanding on the concept of bikes and movement.