A former teacher is using dirt bikes to inspire future engineers

Using dirt bikes to inspire young students

Baltimore — Racing down city streets on dirt bikes while doing wheelies has been popular in Baltimore for decades. About 20 years ago it was outlawed. But it's so much a part of the culture in some neighborhoods that it's been impossible to eliminate.

Brittany Young, who grew up watching dirt bikers, is now always looking for ways to get young students interested in STEM, short for science, technology, engineering and math. What even young kids here understand is dirt bikes. So she created an organization called B-360 to channel that passion.

"I always hear that STEM is boring, it's hard. And I was like, 'No, we just haven't put it in context in ways people understand,'" said the former technology teacher who has an engineering degree.

CBS News met Young and a group of Baltimore public school students at the Imaging Research Center at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County. They learned how a 3-D scan of one of the students on a dirt bike will be turned into a digital image and then into a 12-foot statue using 3-D printing.

If that sounds complicated, it is. But it appeared to inspire some young minds.

"My dream is to become an engineer so I can make one of the fastest dirt bikes in the world," one student said.

The students also learn how their bikes work and how to ride them safely.

Young said she can see future engineers in the students, saying she sees herself "in each one." Now she's turning what was seen as a street nuisance into an on-ramp to the technology highway.

  • Chip-Reid_bio_140x100_bw.jpg
    Chip Reid

    Chip Reid is CBS News' national correspondent.