B360 is teaching STEAM skills through ... dirt bikes? - Technical.ly Baltimore

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Mar. 22, 2017 12:51 pm

B360 is teaching STEAM skills through … dirt bikes?

Brittany Young sees the passion for dirt bikes, and wants to channel it toward creating jobs. Here's how.

A dirt biker in Baltimore in 2008.

(Photo by Flickr user cranky messiah, used under a Creative Commons license)

Whether it’s in person or on social media, dirt bikes always draw interest in Baltimore.

Growing up in West Baltimore, Brittany Young was one of the many who turned out to watch the riders.

She saw the passion of the people who own the bikes and ride up-close. As an engineer, she also recognizes that the passion translates into knowledge about the workings of the bikes. And, she adds, they’re learning from an early age.

Young graduated Poly and went on to become a chemical engineer. But she wanted to give back, and provide more opportunities in STEAM fields. She was thinking, “How can I provide solutions for cities like Baltimore where the main problem is access to education?”

She returned to dirt bikes, and the passion around them. She believes that energy can be used as a vehicle to learn about STEAM. Young created B360, which is one of the ventures in the current Johns Hopkins Social Innovation Lab cohort, to turn the program into reality.

Brittany Young talks about B360. (Photo by Stephen Babcock)

Brittany Young talks about B360. (Photo by Stephen Babcock)

Creating teams that include a dirt bike rider and instructor, the idea is to give students exposure to design and the workings of the dirt bikes. Beyond the stunts, Young said she wants to “create a space where you can do that and learn all of the science behind what you’re doing, and the mechanics,” she said.

“The best comparison is First LEGO League robotics,” she said, referring to the competition where students solve various challenges to build robots.

B360 is ramping up the STEAM programming with community connections like the Druid Heights Community Development Corporation, where a kickoff was held last month. In the future, Young wants the program to be a pathway to education and jobs.

It was clear from the meeting that the program is also addressing the perceptions of dirt bikes, which are often criticized and remain illegal to ride in the city streets. Along with jobs, Young wants to create an environment that shows dirt bikes can be safe and have a positive impact.

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