“Any suggestions?” asked Baltimore County School Board District 3 Chairwoman Kathleen S. Causey before she took the controls of a Redbird flight simulator under coaching from high school student Ben Yocum, who is taking science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) classes. Causey said using aviation as a teaching tool was an “opportunity for our students to see what real-world training is like, and then to think about the occupations that are available in a wide variety” of aviation careers that could include technical career pathways.
Behind her, aviation class students Claire White and Daniel Allen demonstrated a drone obstacle course that they preprogrammed after writing a computer script. Other students used a hot air blower to make a multicolored tissue paper hot air balloon fly.
Baltimore County Public Schools Technology Education Supervisor Robin M. Bowden addressed dozens of school district officials, teachers, and aviation industry professionals who gathered for an official opening ceremony February 21 in Parkton, Maryland.
“We’re here today for the kids,” said Bowden as aviation class teachers Weston Fellows and Mike Doddo looked on. She predicted the aviation technology program, which was also rolled out at the district’s Kenwood High School, would enable students to be “poised and prepared to fill future positions in the workforce.”
AOPA Director of Curriculum Development Erik M. Yates, who was on hand for an official ribbon-cutting ceremony, said more than 5,000 students in 161 schools and 34 states are currently using the ninth, tenth, and eleventh grade STEM aviation curriculum—with plans to expand the program to twelfth grade for the 2020-2021 school year.
The You Can Fly program and the Air Safety Institute are funded by charitable donations to the AOPA Foundation, a 501(c)(3) organization.