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Teachers 'flight test' AOPA's high school aviation curriculumTeachers ‘flight test’ AOPA’s high school aviation curriculum

The AOPA You Can Fly High School Initiative is working to create aviation-based science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) curriculum for high schools across the country. A step in that effort is to put its curriculum for ninth graders to the test. Educators who will field test the curriculum this fall attended a teachers’ workshop held at AOPA’s Frederick, Maryland headquarters June 26 through 28.

AOPA is working with high schools to incorporate aviation into science, technology, engineering, and math education. Teachers recently visited AOPA headquarters to field test an aviation curriculum. Photo by Christopher Rose.

The curriculum that was introduced at the workshop is part of a first-of-its-kind program to offer students comprehensive, grade-appropriate, four-year aviation study options.

Approximately 30 schools will test the ninth-grade curriculum in the coming school year, with teachers in test schools receiving continuing professional development throughout the year. The initial courses will be available for any high school to implement in fall 2018, said Cindy Hasselbring, senior director of the AOPA You Can Fly program's High School Initiative.

Three career and technical education pathways are being developed, putting students on track to become pilots, work with unmanned aircraft systems (drones), or work in aerospace engineering. Schools can decide to implement one or more of the complete pathways, or choose among the courses. The curriculum will be made available free to schools.

The ninth-grade course will provide the foundation for advanced exploration in the areas of flying, aerospace engineering, and unmanned aircraft systems. Students will learn about the engineering process, problem solving, and the innovations and technological developments that have made today’s aviation and aerospace industries possible. Students also will learn about the wide variety of exciting and rewarding careers available to them. The ninth-grade course will inspire students to consider aviation and aerospace careers while laying the foundation for continued study in grades 10 through 12 and beyond.

Beginning in tenth grade, the coursework will take more specialized directions—for example with students in the pilot and drone pathways taking “Introduction to Flight,” while those in the aerospace engineering track study “Aerodynamics for Engineers.”

The curriculum for tenth graders, now under development, will undergo its test phase in 2018-2019, with implementation to follow. A 2018-2019 course development timeline is planned for the eleventh grade, with testing and implementation over the 2019-2021 time span; course development, testing, and implementation for seniors will emerge from 2019 to 2020.

The AOPA workshop for teachers (the group included 15 in Frederick, and another 15 who participated online from as far away as Alaska) got started with an overview of the High School Initiative, which is one of several components of You Can Fly, AOPA’s umbrella program created to build the pilot community and help secure aviation’s future.

The overview was followed by sessions dedicated to putting the ninth-grade STEM curriculum under a microscope, exploring teaching methods, bringing the internet into the equation as a learning aid, a look at the engineering design process, and more.

There was hands-on education for the workshop participants, with activities examining hot-air balloons; testing air foils in wind tunnels; and learning about the composite materials used in the construction of modern aircraft.

The teachers came away from the workshop not only more firmly versed in how to teach aviation, but motivated to inspire their students to envision futures of their own that include a new awareness of the possibility of an aviation or aerospace career.

AOPA is confident that for high school students, the curriculum being developed will offer a chance to explore the many fascinating aspects of aviation while, “making math and science more relevant and fun.”

Topics: You Can Fly, AOPA Events, Aviation Education Programs

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