Walking through campus last week I saw a stonemason carving small chamfers every 30cm or so around the edge of plinth being prepared to receive a new sculpture. A few days later there were metal tabs fitted in the chamfers, presumably to discourage skateboarders from using the plinth for acrobatics. These metal tabs are becoming as common in our public places as the skateboarders they are designed to discourage. I can understand old people being worried by fast moving youngsters on skateboards, but the speed and freedom of movement is part of the attraction for young people. As a teacher of engineering, I see the skateboard as another everyday example of engineering with which to liven up the classroom and grab students’ attention. Try riding a board into class to engage attention!
Below is a ‘5E’ lesson plan for beam bending theory based around a skateboard. For more on Everyday Examples in Engineering ‘Bridging Cultures’ on June 12th, 2013; and ‘Disease of a Modern Age’ on June 26th, 2013.