National Flight Academy to Prepare Youth for STEM Careers

Article excerpt

Using a 9,000-square-foot facility called the Flight Adventure Deck at the National Naval Aviation Museum in Pen-sacola, Fla., more than 50,000 students during the past 10 years have seen firsthand, how their classroom science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) theory has a real-time, hands-on application in aviation.

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The Flight Adventure Deck is an interactive introduction to the field. A collaborative effort between the museum and two local school districts, it was outfitted at a cost of $2 million.

The simulator includes 38 interactive devices, 11 educational kiosks, an interactive wind tunnel and four computer-based flight simulators for middle-school students.

The program has recently expanded to include high school level navigational and meteorology curricula. Results from pre-and post-testing of students who have participated in the program show a 40 percent increase in science and math subject matter knowledge.

The flight deck, however, is just the first step. Construction of the National Flight Academy started in June. Located adjacent to the museum, the National Flight Academy will be housed in a 100,000-square-foot state-of-the-art facility. During a five-and-a-half day in-residence program, students will be challenged through team-based competitions and fully engaged through advanced serious gaming and simulation engineering. The aim is to show them how far their potential extends.

Building upon the success of the Flight Adventure Deck, the National Flight Academy will take an immersive, and wholly hands-on approach to teaching the principles of science and engineering while reaching beyond the traditional academic experience.

A dynamic curriculum designed for grades seven through 12 will challenge students from around the world in an aviation-based environment. The lessons will be centered on five core competencies: navigation; meteorology; aerodynamics; propulsion; and flight physiology. …