If you happened by the Wings of Hope hangar on a Saturday this past April, you might have seen some very young “mechanics” working on our aircraft. These were 20 students from the Kirkwood, Jennings, Ferguson-Florissant school districts and the Girl Scouts of Eastern Missouri participating in our pilot Soar into STEM program. For four Saturdays, they gathered in our hangar for hands-on STEM training on a Cessna 182 that’s destined for service in Paraguay. Wings of Hope volunteers and aviation and STEM experts volunteered as mentors, teaching students STEM aviation principles and opening their eyes to the myriad job opportunities in STEM and aviation fields. The program’s goal is to ignite in youth – especially girls and students of color – a passion for STEM learning and career opportunities. Program supporters included Boeing, Maritz and Elite Aviation.
Integral to the program is connecting STEM learning with service learning – specifically, by showing students how the plane they worked on will be used to fly life-saving medical missions in an underserved community in South America.
If feedback from the students is any indicator, the program hit the mark: “Service for the good of others – or just thinking about helping others – gives me an overwhelming feeling of gratitude,” said Ashley, a 17-year-old student participant. “Thinking about the things Wings of Hope is doing makes me want to cry from how powerful it is and how it has helped so many people. If I ever get my pilot’s license, I would like to do something like this.”
Based on the tremendous success of the pilot program, Wings of Hope will host two Soar into STEM sessions in 2020. For more information about how to get involved as a partner or participant, visit wingsofhope.ngo/stem.