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Aviation Leaders Encourage Use Of Aviation In The Classroom

Teacher's Day At AirVenture 2007, Part One

by ANN Correspondent Maxine Scheer

On Friday, July 27 at the Experimental Aircraft Association's (EAA) Eagle Hangar, teachers gathered to learn and share activities that educate through aviation. Approximately 1,000 teachers attended the half-day event and were greeted with appreciation for their interest and with inspirational thoughts from notable aviation leaders that included FAA Administrator Marion Blakey, and world renowned aviator Dick Rutan.

Attendees had the choice of 12 workshops, which covered the development and use of curriculum designed to inspire a love of aviation in classrooms from K-12.

Administrator Blakey acknowledged teachers have the toughest job, "educating youth to be ready for anything." Aviation opens world after world of valuable experiences, says Blakey. "We all agree the American education system is in trouble. The US is not growing enough engineers and [many of] the engineers we do grow are returning to their home countries." She commended the efforts of EAA and the other conference participants in taking the extra step and teaching kids that aviation is accessible to everyone -- and that it is really "cool."

Amy Lind Corbett, FAA Administrator for the New England Region, presented Administrator Blakey with a gift from the FAA Regional Administrators for her leadership in increasing awareness of the needs for aviation education and establishing FAA partnerships with EAA, the Civil Air Patrol (CAP), and NASA for aviation education.

Ken Cook, President of the National Coalition for Aviation Education (NCAE) provided a brief overview of NCAE's work in aviation education and presented the Mervin K. Strickler Award for "Lifelong Contributions and Personal Commitment to Aerospace Education" to Judith Rice, Executive Director of Careers in Aviation, Inc. (An interview with Ms. Rice was featured recently in Aero-News.)

Dick Rutan, world-renowned aerospace engineer, conveyed to the audience his experience as a young man in a world that couldn't imagine that it would be possible to design and build an aircraft that could go around the world without stopping or refueling - an achievement he made in 1986 with the aircraft Voyager.

"What we do as a species relies in your hands," says Mr. Rutan (right). "People under our tutelage don't know what they are capable of and it's our responsibility to motivate and encourage them to imagine doing what [conventional wisdom] says can't be done". He used a number of examples, such as flying at the speed of light or expanding the technology and application of biogenetics.

Jamail Larkins, FAA and Young Eagles spokesperson, relayed statistics about the decline in pilots and upcoming wave of retirements in maintenance, air traffic control and aviation business arenas. He also emphasized the importance and impact of mentoring.

Patrick Leaveck, of Project Lead the Way (PTLW), estimates that the organization has reached over 250,000 school age children and has over $12 million invested in a curriculum that is available to any teacher, free of charge. An estimated 1,600 schools are currently participating in PTLW programs.

After listening to the presenters, teachers proceeded to the workshops... which we'll delve into greater detail about in Part 2 tomorrow.

FMI: www.eaa.org/education.html

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