Dissecting a flower, a squid or cow’s eye was just one of the activities students did when The Flying Classroom landed at the Atlantic Aviation location within Newport News/Williamsburg International Airport to encourage student participation in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM).
Led by Captain Barrington Irving, The Flying Classroom came as part of a partnership with Newport News Public Schools. About 300 students, in grades kindergarten to eighth grade, attended the program as part of Newport News Public Schools’ SPARK program.
Students also explored several small aircraft and talk with local aviation professionals.
Irving is a renowned pilot, educator, explorer, and community leader. He held the Guinness Book record, from 2007 to 2012, as the youngest person to fly solo around the world at 23 years old. He is also the first African American to fly solo around the world. In addition, he founded the nonprofit Experience Aviation, which is designed to help middle and high school students explore aviation and other STEM-based careers and programs through hands-on learning experiences.
Giving students an opportunity to experience the STEM fields with a hands-on approach rather than learning from a book is the key to getting them interested in the field, he said. “The Flying Classroom brings to life the STEM fields,” Irving added.
While the Flying Classroom has standards and principles aligned with STEM, it also includes correlated activities in geography, informational literacy, writing, art, and social studies. Students work to develop critical thinking, collaboration, communication and cognitive development skills as they navigate through the expedition, according to Gabrielle Fraenkel, sales representative for the Flying Classroom.
There’s more to the partnership. The Flying Classroom provided Newport News Public Schools’ students with virtual expeditions as part of the district’s iSTEM initiative.
For more information about Flying Classroom please visit https://flyingclassroom.com/.