The Value of STEM Education to Aviation
Kids Reach New Heights in STEM Education Through Aviation is not a title which you would expect to find in US News & World Report. The issue of Science, Technology, Engineering & Math has become so important to the future of the US economy that the weekly magazine featured the need for greater student interest in these academic disciplines. The author reviews the aviation programs at two California schools to entice kids to try the courses which seem so daunting. The “fun of flying” draws them into these programs and blinds them of the “fear” of these difficult subjects.
- “Getting off the plane, I just could not stop smiling. It was the best experience of my life. It gave me a taste of what I could do and I was hooked!”
- Students use computer-based flight training devices to learn the basics of aircraft control, navigation and aeronautical decision-making as part of their classroom training.
- students are taught to fly aircrafts on stimulators during the weekdays, alternating with their theoretical work in the classroom. Students fly in the air on weekends.
- …brings in professionals from the field to talk to the students.
- partnered with Santa Barbara Soaring, a gliding school in California, for kids as young as 14 to get flight training over the summer. These gliders are engine-less aircrafts that enable kids to get a feeling of what flying is like at a lower cost than what they would pay for a powered aircraft.
- At Santa Barbara, students take part in an immersive weeklong glider course that includes ground school and practice flights. At the end of the course, students receive their glider’s license.
- “I didn’t feel like there was enough tangible, hands on-learning going on within the schools.
- There is a lot math and science being taught without real firm context and I believe aviation could be a fantastic hands-on real world application for everything from algebra to earth science. It’s one of the most diverse and inclusive scientific professions,” Mikkelsen says.
- He teaches science, technology, engineering and math subjects through aviation, taking what students are already learning in other classes and making it more understandable and relevant to their everyday lives.
- Algebra, geometry, physics, chemistry and earth science are among the subjects he incorporates in his teaching.
- Algebra: You have 50 gallons of fuel on board, and only 48 of that is usable. You’re burning 8.5 gallons/hour. Will you be able to make your destination with a half hour reserve of fuel?
- Geometry: You are trying to intercept the 135 degree radial from a navigational aid. What would your intercept heading need to be if you want to intercept that radial at an angle of 30 degrees?
- Chemistry: lWhere do storms get their energy and why are they so violent?
- “It’s an interesting and engaging class; you don’t have to explain to students how you’ll use it in the real world,” says Steve Wallis, principal of Da Vinci Science High School. “The way it’s taught really supports the curriculum they’re using in their other classes.”
These examples are replicable at other schools around the country. Aviation safety professionals would be doing our industry a great favor by suggesting to local schools the value of this STEM approach and by offering to mentor students. Aviation can be uplifting in many ways.
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