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AOPA invites high schools to use free aviation curriculumAOPA invites high schools to use free aviation curriculum

Engaging STEM program rolled out for ninth-gradersEngaging STEM program rolled out for ninth-graders

Schools are invited to apply to use AOPA’s free, innovative, aviation-based, ninth-grade science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) curriculum to engage students and help build the future of aviation. The ninth-grade courses are the first of a four-year program that includes three career and technical education pathways—pilot, aerospace engineering, and drones.

McKinney High School student Branna Barrows uses the AOPA High School Aviation STEM curriculum during classes in McKinney, Texas. Photo by David Tulis.

Each fall, a new grade level of courses will be rolled out and available to schools for implementation until all four grade levels are complete.

Schools can decide to select individual courses to use as stand-alone electives or implement one or more complete pathways.

The ninth-grade courses were tested in nearly 30 schools with more than 700 students over the past 12 months and include everything a teacher might need—and more. Thorough lesson plans, appealing presentations, assessments, fun student activities, and other learning opportunities are all included. The innovative program has already proven to be an enlightening learning experience.

"I want you to know how much I enjoy teaching this new course! It is an awesome course and our students love it!" said Texas teacher Scott Payne of Berkner High School near Dallas.

Students learned about aerodynamics and wind tunnels by making airfoils out of foam, aluminum, and glue; explored case studies to understand the adverse effects of weather, pilot fatigue, and lack of training; and debated who was first to attain powered flight—the Wright brothers or Gustave Albin Whitehead.

“This is a major step in our work to help young people learn more about the engaging and well-paying careers in aviation, and it gives schools the tools they need to teach our children skills that will last for a lifetime,” said AOPA President and CEO Mark Baker.

The curriculum is aligned to Next Generation Science Standards and Common Core State Standards for Mathematics. Teachers who want to implement the program will be introduced to the concepts through a professional development workshop that supports them with either an on-site learning experience at AOPA headquarters in Frederick, Maryland, June 26 to 28, or by connecting online during that same time.

Cindy Hasselbring, AOPA High School Aviation Initiative senior director, noted that donations to the AOPA Foundation allow the innovative program to be offered free of charge to any public or private high school and would likely engage some students “who may never have considered aviation before.”

The deadline for applying to use the aviation STEM curriculum during the 2018-2019 school year is April 19.

AOPA’s You Can Fly initiatives recognize the importance of building the pilot community through programs that include high school learning curriculum, flying clubs, Rusty Pilots seminars, and other pilot-support mechanisms that make flying safe, fun, and affordable.

David Tulis

David Tulis

Associate Editor Web/ePilot
AOPA Associate Editor Web/ePilot David Tulis joined AOPA in 2015 and is a seaplane-rated private pilot who enjoys vintage aircraft, aerobatic flying, and photography.
Topics: You Can Fly, Aviation Education Programs

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