Everybody knows we need more young people in aviation, but just how we do that with lasting effect is a question that hasn’t been satisfactorily answered. Perhaps until now, that is. At Redbird Simulations’ impressive AirVenture Oshkosh exhibit space, the company set aside a big space to provide an in-depth aviation experience for students who have expressed interest in and talent for science, technology, engineering and math (STEM), subjects that are the very basis for almost everything we do in aviation. And Redbird is betting that it’s these students who are very likely to become passionate about flight and stay passionate.
Redbird’s STEM Lab, which takes up nearly a quarter of the company’s exhibit space, is holding free aviation-based STEM classes for registered student-attendees in grades 5-12. It’s not just about teaching the students at the show. Redbird is hoping that the STEM Lab will provide a practical model for how teachers can use aviation to teach STEM in the classroom. Interested teachers can audit the classes at the show or online, and each lesson will be made available to them afterwards. When it launched the idea, Redbird was worried about how it was going to fill the seats during the weeklong run of AirVenture, but within days of Redbird reaching out to a couple of STEM programs, every spot for the week was spoken for.
Redbird will be running sessions Monday-Saturday from 9am to 3pm for young people and teachers. Class length varies by topic—most run about 50 minutes. Topics covered include aerodynamics, aircraft design, weather and aeronautical decision making, to name a few. It isn’t all sitting quietly and listening to a lecture, though. The classes will make use of Redbird’s Jay Velocity Edition desktop simulators to give the students a chance to experience the hands-on applications—which means sim flying—of the very things they’re learning about.
For those students and teachers who worry they might have missed out, fear not. Redbird says that it will provide information and resources for teachers and school districts to integrate aviation based STEM programs at any grade level. If all goes well, we’re likely to see Redbird’s impressive initial effort grow and spread, just like the passion for aviation that these young people are getting the chance to discover firsthand.
For more information, visit Redbird STEM Education.