A STEM-focused Aviation Mobile Lab in a former school bus is cleared for takeoff for students in grades 1 through 12 in Pasco County, Florida, to learn aviation skills and techniques.
The lab, created with help from Jay LeBoff of STEMPilot in Waterbury, Conn., provides students with STEMPilot’s hands-on learning experience through an instructive curriculum using flight simulators.
“The Pasco County program is designed to keep the students on a linear track by starting their curriculum in elementary schools and continuing that learning through middle and high schools,” explained LeBoff.
LeBoff was contacted by Terry Aunchman, Career Technical Education (CTE) Director of Pasco County, and Brian Sawyer of the Pasco County Aviation Academy, a division of CTE, about installing instructional STEMPilot Edustation flight simulators to create the Aviation Mobile Lab that will travel to schools across the county.
The Pasco County Aviation Mobile Lab features six STEMPilot Edustation flight simulators and a 3D printer.
“Our Edustations facilitate elementary to high school students the physical experience of flight simulation by flying all types of aircraft while they apply STEM – Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics — principles in meaningful project-based STEM Learning,” LeBoff said.
Each completed flight plan applies geometry, algebra, physics, trigonometry, meteorology, geography and topography.
The curriculum also includes two informational writing assignments covering family heritage and aviation history.
STEMPilot’s Edustations offer a student the hands-on experience of sitting in a simulated cockpit, navigating, and flying a small plane, jet or helicopter. The Edustation comes ready to fly with the STEMPilot Flight PC, yoke, throttle, rudder controls and a 32” high definition wide-screen display.
Edustations allow each student to personally experience all the mechanics, theories and techniques aircraft pilots must utilize to safely maneuver and succeed in the often-challenging landing of their aircraft, LeBoff noted.
The Aviation Mobile Lab also is equipped with a handicap-accessible lift and ramp at the rear of the bus.
“We designed one of the Edustations to be accessed by a student in a wheelchair,” he explained. “When the lift rises it allows a student to roll into the mobile lab right to the Edustation. When wheelchair access is not necessary, that Edustation is available for use by another student.”
Once on board the bus, flight crews of two are formed consisting of a pilot and co-pilot at each simulator, working together in collaborative problem-solving. The crew rotates position after each mission so members assess each other during a flight.
Drone training software and controllers are available, as well as a variety of cockpit instruments and display scenarios.
Each student learns to “fly” the Edustation simulator. The missions are linear starting with the fundamentals of controlling flight surfaces, taxiing, takeoff, and landing. As students advance they train flying more advanced missions, including flying a pattern, flying cross country, and flying full instrument ILS approaches. The simulators are capable of flying every airfield on the planet in one of 50 aircraft all geographically and topographically correct.
Included are additional Activity Missions including flying the “Miracle on the Hudson” where the student takes on the role of Captain Sully Sullenberger. The students are at the controls of the Airbus A-320 on Runway 4 at La Guardia Airport, flying through boxes in the sky to the bird strike and then it’s up to each student from that point forward.”