In an effort to attract middle-school students to the exciting field of aviation and increase the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) pipeline, AMA club, the Fairmont Flyers of Morgantown WV have partnered with(IV&V) Educator Resource Center (ERC) to launch a new Introduction to Model Aviation education program. In partnership with the MidAtlantic Aerospace Complex (MAAC), West Virginia High Technology Consortium (WVHTC), and the Robert C. Byrd National Aerospace Education Center (RCB NAEC), the NASA IV&V will make the physics of flight, fluid dynamics, and control services come alive by training young participants to design airfoils, pass a “ground school” and safely fly model aircraft. The NASA IV&V ERC will recruit small groups (up to 18) of middle-school aged students to travel to the Fairmont facility where they will begin by learning about the work of the IV&V Program and how it has helped the field of aviation from NASA software engineers. Education specialists from the MAAC and the ERC will introduce the students to basic physics principles like weight and balance, Newton’s Laws of Motion, and Bernoulli’s Principle through hands-on activities such as designing, producing, and testing Styrofoam airfoils in a wind tunnel at 40 mph. Students will then examine the control surfaces of modern planes and model planes to learn how these are used to maneuver aircraft. Through instruction, mentoring, and the use of a model airplane flight simulator, students will be required to demonstrate their ability to safely control the aircraft before they can “earn their wings.” From the classroom, the students will travel to the local airport where a certified flight instructor from the RCB NAEC will land a Cessna aircraft and invite the students to perform a hands-on pre-flight inspection of the craft to learn how pilots adjust the same control surfaces found on model aircraft.
Finally, students will travel the Fairmont Flyer’s club field— Meredith Field where they will have an opportunity to fly NASA’s own E-flight Alpha 450 aircraft with the safe use of a buddy-box system. Todd I. Ensign, Program Manager for NASA IV&V Educator Resource Center is very excited for the program. “We believe that through this immersive experience, students will enhance their understanding of STEM fields and will hopefully begin a lifelong engagement with aviation which could even lead to a career as West Virginia’s second astronaut.”
Recent News Posted about the program:
By Christian Flores, General Assignment Intern
NASA organized an introduction to aviation workshop Tuesday for Philippi-area middle school students. The students learned aviation basics, and saw the FSU Cessna land at Fairmont Airport. They then went Meredith Field for a more realistic experience.