July 14, 2014
By Jill W. Tallman
A portable turnkey flight simulator specifically designed for classroom use is showing students at schools in Connecticut and New York how much fun flying can be. Its creator, Jay Leboff, says a new curriculum designed to work with the simulator will help teachers combine science and math with simulation so that students will learn to solve complex problems using multiple disciplines.
Leboff, owner of Hot Seat Chassis Inc., said he got the idea for the Edustation after selling a two-screen flight simulator to a school in New Canaan, Connecticut. “It occurred to me while I was in the school that classroom space is at a premium,” he said. “They were putting all the flight gear on an AV cart and wheeling it around. I said, ‘This is crazy, I’ll be back on Monday.’” He designed and built the first Edustation that weekend.
The units are ideal for middle- and high-school aviation clubs, but Leboff said they also can help teachers to effectively integrate science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) in ways that students find engaging and entertaining. Leboff and associates Vivian Birdsall and Henry Rey have created a 22-lesson curriculum designed to apply math and science that is taught in the classroom. The curriculum, “Flying Makes STEM Fun,” consists of one-hour classroom lessons coupled with a one-hour lab that encourage students to work together in teams to create and execute flight plans.
“In New Canaan we’ve been running a flight club and STEM lab,” Leboff said. “We had 11 kids [to start] and are now up to 84. When we show up with flight simulators, we get a line out the door of kids who want to fly and teachers who want to fly.”
The curriculum was to get its official launch in July at The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art summer STEM program for New York City high school students. LeBoff said he planned to film each session and lab and edit it to create a teaching tutorial for teachers who are not pilots. “We’ll conduct a research study to screen kids before the program, observe them through the program, [and] screen them on the way out, with the objective to validate the efficacy of teaching aviation math and science and using aviation as a tool,” he said.
“After 40 years of ignoring math and science, the country has a tremendous shortage of engineers,” Leboff said. “To get kids interested, you have to find a better way of delivering the method.”
The Edustation is priced at $3,995, which includes the 32-inch monitor and plug-and-play computer that runs Microsoft Flight Simulation X; yoke, rudder, and throttle controls; and a 2.1 sound system that can be used with headsets. Each unit comes with the Flight Club Manual, a basic introduction to flying that helps teachers train the students to operate the unit. The STEM Lab curriculum will be licensed and sold separately. For more information, see the website.
AOPA Technical Editor Jill W. Tallman is an instrument-rated private pilot who owns a Piper Cherokee 140.
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