Updated: Jul 13, 2021
What I have really noticed this year is how aviation/aerospace education is making an impact on our young people. For example, out of six upperclassmen in my advanced aviation course (AOPA's High School STEM Curriculum), four students are spreading their wings this summer. Jeremy, a senior, was accepted to Embry Riddle to pursue a degree in Aeronautical Engineering, Noah, a junior and a Civil Air Patrol cadet, will continue his flight training at CAP's Flight Academy in Camden, SC. And two more students, Gabe and Brian, a junior and a sophomore, received flight training scholarships from Triple Tree Aerodrome. These students have all made important decisions and taken significant steps to pursue a career in aviation/aerospace, and STEM Flights was a part of that decision process.
STEM Flights gives meaning to what the students are learning in the classroom. Anytime we can get out from behind our desks and go out to the airport, students will make connections between their studies and the "real world". You never know what will trigger students to become more motivated, but when you give them opportunities to be around, and actually fly, airplanes, the chances are pretty good that they will want to come back and learn more. What I like about STEM Flight is the mentoring aspect. Several of my students have participated in other flight experiences offered by local pilots. Similar to STEM Flights, students are taken up in GA aircraft to experience flight. It is a great first time experience. But unlike other organizations, STEM Flights is more than short ride in airplane. STEM Flights Pilot Mentors work with students to plan the trip and navigate while flying. The debriefing is an important part of the experience too, reinforcing what the student learned.
It blows my mind that Jeremy, Noah, Gabe, and Brian have made career decisions and are acting on those decisions, all because we started an aviation/aerospace program at our school 3 years ago. Some teachers never get to see the fruits of their labor. For me it's encouraging and validating that career and technical education plays a valuable role our society, and I am encouraged keep teaching.
Educator at Greenville Technical Charter High School