This past year we faced the unique challenge of delivering our hands-on Soar into STEM programming within the constraints of a virtual learning environment. The result is a more structured, in-depth curriculum that will continue to provide students a robust learning experience whether it is delivered virtually or in person.
“We were so determined to provide our Soar into STEM students a virtual experience that was as engaging and exciting as our in-person experience that we ended up with a curriculum that is stronger than ever,” said Tiffany Nelson, director of programs and evaluation for Wings of Hope. “Our instructional designers really knocked it out of the park.”
Twenty-six students participated in the two virtual Soar into STEM sessions we offered over the summer. They were supported by 16 volunteer mentors.
Each four-week session was designed around a specific weekly focus. Week one focused on pilots, the physics of flight and an introduction to Wings of Hope. During week two, students learned about airplane mechanics and built a model V8 engine using an at-home kit. In week three, students learned about the engineering involved in airplanes, and got hands-on by creating their own Lego designs. Flight simulation and navigation activities were the focus of week four. Throughout the program, students connected with mentors, coaches and guest speakers via Zoom to learn about STEM and aviation career paths.
Students who completed at least 75% of their assignments were eligible to take discovery flights in August. Of the 14 eligible students, eight went on discovery flights in small aircraft under the close supervision of certified flight instructors from Elite Aviation.
“As we head into 2022, we’re continuing to enhance the Soar into STEM curriculum by adding a drone component, a first for the program,” said Nelson. “Drone education is really exciting because it connects to the new work Wings of Hope is doing using drones to deliver supplies and resources to underserved communities in places such as Ecuador and Colombia.”
Wings of Hope also hosted seven interns during the summer of 2021. Interns could specify an area of interest when applying to the program. Three used their time to learn more about becoming a pilot, and four explored their interest in the mechanical aspects of aviation. All seven completed hands-on projects working alongside experienced mentors and took discovery flights.
In 2022, Soar into STEM will return to our hangar with two, four-week sessions — one in April and one in November.
For more information about Soar into STEM and our aviation-focused internships, camps and field trips, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.