Shaping the Face of Aviation's Future

Aviation education. It's as simple as a trip to the local airport for a group of first graders or a national art contest with aviation as its theme. Or it can be as complex as a formal program for high school students that integrates the science and math of aerodynamics into the curriculum.

Learning about aviation -- its many roles in the community and impact on the economy, the varied professions that keep aviation airborne, or the cutting-edge research needed to develop the aircraft of tomorrow -- can build support for aviation and the local airport. It can be the catalyst for a career.

The State of Minnesota has produced a comprehensive catalog of educational programs and information. It includes an overview of elementary to high-school level programs, and age-appropriate aviation and space resources for kindergarten through 6th Grade and 7th through 12th grades. It provides a list of Minnesota's aviation organizations that offer classroom resources.

Other states' aviation and education officials, such as those in New Jersey, formally recognize teachers who base their curriculum on facets of aviation or include aviation as part of the lessons in a certain discipline, such as science and math.

And some programs tie educational performance to flight training. Students accepted into the Caldwell, New Jersey based Eagle Flight Squadron program must maintain a high grade-point average to remain in their program, one that applies the lessons of school to the lessons of aviation. And while learning the joys of aviation, the students are learning self-discipline.

What may be hundreds of airports open their doors each day to students of all ages, allowing them to see first-hand the wonders and joys of flight. Chances are pretty good that, later that day, the parents of those young airport visitors will get an earful in support of the local airport. A child's influence can't be underestimated, nor can the instruction and influence of a dedicated teacher or adult.

Aviation can excite and stimulate learning. It can transform a student lacking clear direction into one who is inspired and goal-oriented. How often have we learned of yet another participant in America's Space Shuttle program who dreamed as a child of going to the stars -- not as a pilot, but as a scientist or doctor starting with the dream of flight?

Finally, when it comes to gaining support for aviation, educators and government have known for years that the shortest distance between a call to action and actually doing something is a child's prodding. Whether it's encouragement to recycle or an urgent plea to quit smoking, children and the lessons they learn in school can serve as a powerful motivation.

View the "Educational Organizations/Programs/Lesson Materials" of our state pages to find places to turn for programs that might meet your needs.

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Good grades plus discipline equals the left seat. Learn how Reverend Russell White motivates participants in the Eagle Flight Squadron to aspire to not only a Cessna 152, but to Daniel Webster College in New Hampshire, the United States Air Force Academy, and careers in aviation law. Turn to the story in our Resources Section.