STEM Academy flies high
W-F students complete aviation course
Twelve fifth- and sixth-grade students at the Fremont STEM Academy completed an eight-week course at the EAA Aviation Museum in Oshkosh.
They studied aviation once per week and learned about the history and science behind airplanes, toured the Wittman Regional Airport control tower and EAA’s maintenance hangar, tested their own flying skills on flight simulators, and built radio-control airplanes.
“The board for our charter school wanted a strong aviation influence and wanted the students to see the opportunities possible in the world of aviation,” said Jen Steidtman, the Fremont STEM Academy’s teacher. “Just because we’re a rural district doesn’t mean we shouldn’t set our sights on those things. Our high school has a STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math) program with an aeronautics section, so bringing that tie-in to our students before high school is really important to motivate them about those career choices.”
Tate Blank, an academy sixth grader from Readfield, did not know much about aviation prior to the EAA sessions, but he was enthused about all the activity.
“The hands-on stuff was the best,” said Blank, as he held his own aircraft design that received an award for best building quality. “In a normal school you’re sitting at a desk all day, but here you’re not.”
STEM Academy, EAA good match
Considering the proximity of Fremont to Oshkosh, the STEM Academy is a good match. The EAA features programming year-round in its Youth Education Center, which opened in July 2022.
“They leave here understanding more about engineering and design than they probably thought they would. And it’s fun to see them link what we’ve learned with things we see elsewhere. They start connecting that with, ‘Hey, we saw that at EAA,’” Steidtman said. “They’re passionate and excited about their hands-on learning and being here has been wonderful.”
The center has attracted students from Wisconsin, Illinois,and Minnesota; there are sessions for homeschooled students as well as regular Saturday sessions for any child in grades six through 12.
Those in-person programs participants can also go on to connect with EAA’s new AeroEducate online program, which has more than 150 youth activities as well as sections for teachers to bring aviation into the classroom. More than 3,000 youth have already registered to participate in the online activities.
“It’s been exciting for us to be able to work with Fremont STEM Academy week after week and utilize so many of our resources with them, including 3D printing, soldering, circuitry, small engines, and building RC airplanes,” said Courtney Condon, one of EAA’s Youth Education Center educators. “We have a lot of fun watching the students grow their interest in aviation and all the career opportunities available, even if they’re not specifically interested in becoming pilots.”