Students are taking flight in an afterschool program that is new to the area.
The program is called Fly to Learn and it is designed to teach students science, technology, engineering and math concepts through the process of designing, building and flying their own airplanes. The Fly to Learn program is all computer based and powered by ultra-realistic flight simulator software called X-Plane.
The Fly to Learn program was brought to the Jamestown area through a collaboration between the Lucile M. Wright Air Museum and Time Warner Cable's Connect a Million Minds initiative. The initiative, which seeks to address America's declining proficiency in STEM concepts, paid a grant to the LMW Air Museum to coordinate and bring the Fly to Learn program to surrounding school districts.
Students at Jefferson Middle School are learning concepts in science, technology, engineering and math through aviation in the new Fly to Learn afterschool program.
P-J photo by Gavin Paterniti
According to Edward Martiny, curator of the museum, students can learn STEM and aviation concepts in an engaging way.
"These kids will be able to design their own airplane or take any airplane, stick it in (the X-Plane software), and change it," said Martiny. "Then they fly it first, make changes, fly it again and see how the changes affect the flight."
The participating students, who volunteered for the program based on a given description, also have accompanying workbooks complete with graphs, questions and diagrams of flight instruments and panels.
The program is currently being implemented in Jamestown Public Schools' Washington and Jefferson middle schools. According to Martiny, the implementation process into the surrounding school districts will be gradual.
"We're starting with Washington and Jefferson here in the middle school," he said. "There's also an elementary program and a high school program going on in other parts of the country but for Jamestown, this is our starting point. We are trying to coordinate Fly to Learn with all (surrounding) schools and we hope to fill the Museum with kids from all 18 schools in the county."
Fly to Learn consists of nine courses which are divided into one 90-minute session per week. Sessions take place at Washington Middle School on Wednesdays and Jefferson Middle School on Thursdays. Both sessions are from 4-5:30 p.m. Kids are also invited to fly and work on their lessons at the LMW Air Museum.