Astronauts, fighter pilots, and aerospace executives primed about 500 teachers to continue growing the AOPA You Can Fly High School STEM Curriculum that has helped more than 72,000 students get a leg up on aerospace careers.
This year’s AOPA Foundation High School STEM Aviation Symposium was held in Orlando, Florida, November 12 through 14.
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The event was created to provide classroom teachers and school administrators with an opportunity to share best practices, insights, and ideas for launching or building a STEM program based on the free curriculum that the You Can Fly program offers to participating schools.
AOPA Chief Operating Officer Elizabeth Tennyson welcomed the educators to the three-day event that began with a November 12 keynote expressing gratitude for the role they play in the program’s success.
“You are part of a nationwide movement to provide kids with opportunities they never dreamed of—and some 72,000 students all across the country have already benefited from your efforts,” Tennyson said.
"The curriculum is serving students in rural, suburban, and urban areas; in every type of school and even home school co-ops," Tennyson said. "And you are impacting students from every kind of ethnic, racial, and economic background. In fact, almost half the schools in this program are Title 1 eligible. And the students using the program are diverse—42 percent are students of color, numbers that look like the country as a whole."
“You might be surprised to learn that women make up only about 7 percent of the licensed pilots in this country. But you can expect that to change, because 23 percent of our students are young women,” Tennyson said.
Teachers participated in breakout sessions, tried out hands-on classroom exercises, and had a little fun flying small drones indoors. Many of those who participated will likely return when the next High School Aviation STEM Symposium is held in Atlanta, another aerospace hotbed, in November 2024.
The You Can Fly program is funded by charitable donations to the AOPA Foundation, a 501(c)(3) organization. To be a part of the solution, visit www.aopafoundation.org/donate.