Fly to Learn Mentors wanted in South Seattle

Here’s an excellent opportunity for anyone interested in mentoring and filling a known need in the community.  They are looking for instructors/mentors to supplement and sustain the people who started the program.  Please consider getting involved if you can.  To volunteer or find out more details, please contact Dave Jones at jones807@gmail.com.  Thanks!

From Dave Jones:

Fred Quarnstrom, a fellow Boeing Flying Club member pilot and Museum of Flight docent, and I started the Fly to Learn program at Rainer Vista in February of 2012.  We had discovered the Fly to Learn program at the Experimental Aircraft Association Oshkosh Air Show in  summer 2012.   It appeared to be a fun way to introduce kids to physics principles of flying and we both were users of the XPlane flight simulator program.  Fred is a member of a local Rotary Club and he was successful in gaining the club to purchase copies of the Fly to Learn program disks for Rainier Vista.

We run the program one day a week, with back to back one hour sessions, the first for middle school and high school students, and the second hour for elementary grades 3 to 5.   It is a ‘drop-in’ program, so we have a different mix of kids each week, which can be challenging.   There are continually new kids coming in to try the program for a first time, along side others who have been semi-regular attendees.   We have usually 2 to 4 of the middle and high school students for the first hour, while the younger group varies from 5 to over 12 at times.   With only Fred and I to provide explanations, answer questions, and to reboot computers, we have our hands full at times.   The kids really like the program.   The younger group literally break the door down at the start of the session, running in to get a computer to start flying.

Until very recently Fred and I brought our own Apple laptop computers in for the program each week.   Between us we have 5 computers, which has usually meant that the younger kids have to partner up and trade-off flying.   To improve the situation Fred used his contacts to obtain 8 new laptops from Microsoft.  We have just recently completed installing software and configuring the computers, and have begun introducing them to the program.   We are still in the de-bugging phase of the introduction of these machines.   When we have successfully worked through the bugs we are experiencing we will be in a much improved learning environment, for both the kids and ourselves.

We are loosely following the lessons in the fly to learn curriculum.  For beginners we demonstrate how to take-off the C-172, and then have the kids complete a worksheet of flight lesson tasks that include take-off distance measurements, stalls, level flight circling, and landing distance measurement.  When they complete the worksheet the kids are awarded an airplane model that we purchase from the Museum of Flight store.  To date we have awarded over ten models.  For the middle and high school kids we have introduced plane maker and they have worked on changing aspect ratio in chapter 7.

With a year of experience with the program and the new laptops now providing a more stable learning environment, we are working to introduce a more stable, repeatable program to the kids.   To do that one of the things we need badly are more instructor/mentors to supplement Fred and I.

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