How do you reach 20,000 students in 25 countries to call attention to the importance of proficiency in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM education)—especially as the subjects relate to aviation?
Fly out and tell them, one group at a time. That is the mission that Captain Judith A. Rice and a team from the Burbank, California-based nonprofit Think Global Flight recently completed upon wrapping up a “two-month around the world flight of adventure educating and inspiring” more than 20,000 students.
The mission, flown in a donated Cessna Citation Mustang jet, began June 13, and has been supported by aviation luminaries including astronaut Buzz Aldrin, who joined the crew on much of the journey, and Voyager pilot Dick Rutan.
“I witnessed the differences Captain Judy created on this historic flight,” Aldrin said in a Think Global Flight news release, adding that when he was in the Apollo space program, STEM as an educational focus was an unknown concept.
The educational message was enhanced by Rice’s delivery; the former teacher has 3,000 hours in the male-dominated aviation arena and stands out as a role model, the organization’s Aug. 15 announcement added.
The project, designed to enable students to explore career pathways in aviation and aerospace and increase awareness of “green technologies,” has been recognized by the FAA and the U.S. Department of Education. It will continue with development of age-appropriate apps using footage from the flight, and articles and books, Think Global Flight said.