Civil Air Patrol helps students learn about STEM first-hand
WESTBY, Wis. – Members of Civil Air Patrol’s La Crosse Composite Squadron provided support to eighty-five students from the Westby Middle School’s seventh grade last week during the school’s first annual STEM Aviation Day last week. Students had the chance to explore science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) through aerospace and aviation related activities.
The La Crosse squadron provided support for the event by operating two stations and allowing students to experience the unit’s one-of-a-kind F-16 Fighting Falcon simulator.
The idea for the event came from Mary Beth Marx, a Westby science teacher and a CAP Aerospace Education Member. During the day students had the chance to experiment with balsa gliders, use a shop-vac bazooka, fly remote control aircraft, learn about the EAA Young Eagles program, play a bingo game built around aeronautical charts and try their hand flying the fighter simulator.
Major Dave Snyder, the unit’s Aerospace Education Officer, helped students construct balsa gliders and experiment with changes to the control surfaces. Cadet Senior Airman Zeth Burch and Cadet Airman Jacob Erdman taught students about the laws of physics using the unit’s shop-vac bazooka. Meanwhile in an station located outdoors, students flew the F-16 simulator on a course from La Crosse to Winona under the instruction of Cadet Staff Sergeant Brian Gabrielson and Cadet Master Sergeant Colton Wilbur.
The variety of stations helped drive home to students the idea that the fun of flying and aviation still has its roots in science, technology, engineering, and math. As one student told the simulator crew, “Flying is just lots of math, moving really fast!”