This past Tuesday, I attended AirVenture 2013 at the Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA) Museum in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, and it was truly amazing! If you’ve never been, you would not believe the number of people who show up for this week long event. Parking lots are filled, extra parking lots are created in grassy fields, and small aircraft are parked in more fields even as others fly in and out every day. Vendors, speakers and pilots show off their unique wares. Center stage is the daily airshow.
Tuesday was Teachers’ Day! Teachers had a free pass to the grounds and the airshow if they attended a panel of speakers throughout the morning. That was no problem at all. In fact, it was exactly what I wanted to do! We each received a bag full of aviation teaching supplies, and one lady gave anyone who stopped by her table an online code to receive even more free books and lesson plans in the mail. I was thrilled to learn that most of what they had to offer and share ties into the national standards as well as being aligned with STEM: Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math. One speaker joked that it’s really STEAM, and the “a” stands for aviation.
Just take a look at what’s available. There really is something for every age level:
- The General Avaition Manufacturers Association (GAMA) teamed up with Build a Plane (BAP) this year. Two high school teams won the chance to build two airplanes that were flown at AirVenture 2013. I was thrilled to see what they’d done yet saddened that so few schools participated. In my opinion, high schools throughout every state should have entered at least one team. Please remain aware to see if they make this an annual event.
- The Academy of Model Aeronautics (AMA) kits are another way to get kids interested in aviation. It’s easy to sign up for the AMA Flight School. If you’d rather just purchase integrated STEM kits, you can go to Whitebox Learning.
- You can register your class for a fast-paced 1/2 day aviation program for kids ages 12-18 at Youth Aviation Adventure.
- Your class can go on a virtual field trip via interactive video conferencing at the Smithsonian Institute in Washington D.C.: Dressing for Space (gr. preK-3), Kites, Wings and Flying Things (gr. 3-5), Inventing the Airplane (gr. 5-7), Helicopters, Straight Up! (gr. 5-7), To the Moon or Mars (gr. 8+). Just do a Google search for the exact program you’re interested in.
- At Fly to Learn, high school students design, build and fly virtual planes.
- And don’t forget about Space Camp. Did you know that they still have summer sessions for teachers? How cool is that!
- Finally, here is a one stop clearinghouse for all your aviation and space related resources: Think Global Flight, fostering STEM education and Green technology.