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Sun, Jul 01, 2007

Annual Science Of Flight Program Inspires Teachers

Washington Educator Hopes Teachers Pass That Passion To Students

It's summer school for teachers, with a twist.

The four-day summer Science of Flight program, developed eight years ago by Snohomish science teacher Gary Evans, is held at Paine Field, WA, with the goal of inspiring teachers to learn about aviation and then pass their newly-acquired knowledge and passion onto their students, reported the (WA) Daily Herald.

"I was so inspired by a flight I took many years ago, at a friend's invitation, that I earned my own pilot's license," said Gary Evans.

"In 2000, I started my Science of Flight program in Everett (WA) to tell other teachers about aviation and to show them how it could be presented in the classroom as a science topic. Teachers not only get summer education credits for the course, but they also have an experience most of them had never even thought about before."

In its first seven years, 110 teachers have completed the course, resulting in more than 7,000 students finding a new way to apply math and science principles - and perhaps a future career or avocation. This summer, 25 teachers are enrolled in the program, during which they have to prepare an aviation lesson plan for their classrooms as part of the coursework.

Each class will have teachers meeting with aviation professionals to discuss their careers - from aircraft mechanics and a search-and-rescue crew to airline pilots, aircraft dispatchers and FAA control-tower personnel.

They also meet with Paine Field Director Dave Waggoner, a former US Navy jet pilot, and Stan Allison of the Washington DOT's Aviation Division, who provide information to raise student awareness of modern aviation career opportunities. Women and minorities in aviation jobs also share their insights with the teachers about attractive options for studies.

Let's face it, you can't hold a summer school without exciting features and field trips. Highlights of the three-credit, $265 course, slated for July 16 — 19 and August 6 — 9, include an introduction to the physics of flight, classroom experiments and demonstrations using flying principles, two hours of flight instruction in a Cessna 172, and rides in a variety of aircraft.

Field trips include a tour of the Boeing 747, 767, 777 and 787 assembly plant in Everett; the Future of Flight Aviation Center and Boeing Tour facility at Paine Field; the airport's control tower; the Museum of Flight and Challenger Learning Center at Boeing Field in Seattle; aircraft maintenance facilities; and the Museum of Flight's Restoration Center at Paine Field.

Evans developed and implemented the program because he wanted to open students' minds to the general idea aviation. He expects students will go on to become better citizens because they would have a better understanding of the importance of aviation to their communities and the economy.

"The information that is passed on to them in the classroom also shows students that flying could be a personal option in their lives. Even more important, students learn that aviation is a great career field they might never have considered," he said.

Evans, who is the program's instructor, has been a classroom teacher for 35 years and is an adjunct faculty member of Seattle Pacific University. He holds a master's of education degree in science education and teaches chemistry, physics and environmental studies for freshmen in the Snohomish School District.

FMI: www.painefield.com/scienceofflight.html

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