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A Motorcycle is a Beautiful Machine

During one of our Motor Club sessions we were working on a motorcycle project and a student simply asked: “How does it work?”

I’ll never forget this line: A motorcycle is a beautiful machine. During one of our Motor Club sessions we were working on a motorcycle project and a student simply asked: “How does it work?”  I explained to her how an engine is really an air pump; air comes in through the intake and the carburetors perfectly mix that air with fuel at just the right ratio based on an amazingly complex mechanical system of passages and jets and needles.  From there, the air and fuel are sucked into the cylinder through valves that are connected to a camshaft by a chain and timed perfectly to build compression until that exact moment when a spark fires, exploding the piston down to turn the crank. This system connects to a gearbox and finally to the chain, sprockets and the rear wheel, which translate that energy into forward movement.

After this passionate explanation, she was quiet for a moment and then said: “Oh! A motorcycle is a beautiful machine.” I will never forget that line; that one simple noticing encompassed everything I could have ever hoped to accomplish in working with students in that space.

“Awe enables us to perceive in the world intimations of the divine, to sense in small things the beginning of infinite significance, to sense the ultimate in the common and the simple; to feel in the rush of the passing the stillness of the eternal.”

It is like that with a lot of things, isn’t it?  The more you learn about something, the more you realize how beautiful and wonderfully complex it is.  One of my favourite connections in Math 10 is when we learn about equations of lines.  I explain to students that a line is not “just a line” but rather an infinite series of points that makes an equation true.  You can see their eyes widen as their understanding moves from the concrete into the abstract in a tangible way.

I’m confident that moments like these are happening every day all around our three campuses as we engage God’s world together with students.  The richness of this kind of learning is that you may be learning about one particular thing, but you are really learning so much more about a Creator who sustains his creation in a most wonderful and mysterious way.  This learning increases our noticing and appreciation of all things as we pay attention to them and to Him.

“Awe enables us to perceive in the world intimations of the divine, to sense in small things the beginning of infinite significance, to sense the ultimate in the common and the simple; to feel in the rush of the passing the stillness of the eternal.”

–Abraham Joshua Heschel from God in Search of Man.

By Adrian Vandenberg, math teacher & motor club coach

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