Seven Chelsea, Alabama, middle schools built their own custom motorcycle as part of an extra curricular activity sponsored by the Shop Rat organization of Munith, Michigan. Chelsea and another middle school in Michigan were pitted against each other as the North versus the South middle school bike build off. The teams were to design and assembling a custom motorcycle to be unveiled and judged at the 2007 Wheels of Thunder Rally in Jackson, Michigan.
The fabrication process was conducted at VC Tech in Pelham, Alabama, under the tutoring of Joe Coursey, VC Tech custom motorcycle chassis fabrication instructor, and Mark Prosser, VC Tech custom paint and graphics instructor.
Because these were middle school students, the program had a strong commitment from parents who furnished transportation to and from VC Tech. One parent, Phil Spencer, stated that he saw a marked difference in his son, Cameron, 13 years old. “It’s taken him from hanging out in the house, to the type of person who wants to get involved in hands-on activities. This project has expanded his horizons…..he’s always wanted to go to Auburn University, and now he’s looking into engineering.”
Shop Rat, a not for profit organization, provides educational opportunities for students by exposing them to the future of manufacturing, engineering, technology and various trades and crafts. Creating and preparing the next generation of workers and customers in the skilled trades industry. Shop Rat donated two motorcycle kits to the two middle schools – Chelsea and one in Michigan.
Brian Copes, Career Discoveries teacher at Chelsea, grabbed onto the idea of a bike build-off after seeing his students needing more options that challenge his students. He saw students searching for things to get involved with.
The two teams were featured in a parade at the Jackson Wheels of Thunder bike rally. Some of the top bike builders in Michigan judged the bikes. Because of the outstanding craftsmanship demonstrated by each of the two schools students the trophy was split in half so that each team had their own trophy.
Because of the uniqueness of middle school students’ construction of a custom chopper, the Barber Vintage Motorsport Museum has purchased the Chelsea motorcycle for display in the museum. The Chelsea Middle School bike will be unveiled at the April events in Leeds, Alabama.
Barber Vintage Motorsport Museum purchased the student built chopper. These funds were used to start and develop SKY – Skilled Knowledgeable Youth as a 501c3 nonprofit to expand similar programs as Shop Rat.