Aerospace Education Program Promotes STEM at Natl. Scout Jamboree
CAP Activities Draw 4,400+
Capt. Margaret Dilley
Assistant Director of Aerospace Education
West Virginia Wing
Civil Air Patrol’s Aerospace Education program stepped up this summer when organizers of the massive quadrennial National Scout Jamboree decided to include one of the AE program’s core goals – inspiring interest in the STEM subjects (science, technology, engineering and math) – in the spotlight.
When 28,000 Scouts and leaders descended on the mountainous countryside of Fayette County, West Virginia, for the 20th Jamboree, they encountered a STEM Quest Area consisting of 41 large interactive displays. One was offered by CAP, which shared a 60-by-40-foot tent with the U.S. Air Force.
AE program national staff, wing- and unit-level aerospace education officers and cadets helped ensure that Scouts and other visitors encountered engaging activities. The AE space featured four flight simulators, three radio control simulators for flying remote controlled planes and other STEM-focused activities, along with two computers used for on-site registration of educators interested in enrolling as CAP aerospace education members.
Scouts lined up outside the AE space for a chance to pilot five-minute “flights” on the simulators or via radio controls. CAP members guided many to safe runway landings at the end of their simulated flights. Those flying radio-controlled planes had a harder time landing right-side up.
Their excitement was audible:
"Wow, this is great!”
“I want to be a pilot!”
“Could I really use this simulator to learn to fly?”
Scouts participated in other activities designed to attract them to the CSAP space and maintain their interest while they waited their turns – such as firing finger rockets at a target hoop, trying to “catch the bullet” – a Drug Demand Reduction activity using a black foam projectile to test reaction times – or playing corn hole with bean bags.
On their way out of the tent, the visitors were reminded to pick up some giveaways – an Aero-Prop helicopter, a balsa model plane to build and a paper airplane to fold, complete with information they could use in earning their Aviation Merit Badge. Soon the freebies were being flown outside, which in turn attracted other Scouts and leaders to check out the CAP area.
Leaders were informed they could acquire the AE Program’s STEM Kits for their Scout troop for a one-time aerospace education membership fee of $35. In addition, school principals who accompanied Scout troops obtained memberships for all their science teachers. Online sign-ups followed.
On routine days, excluding President Donald Trump’s address to the Jamboree or severe lightning storms, the CAP space hosted an average of about 450 Scouts and more than 100 adult leaders, based on total attendance of 2,885 Scouts and 1,577 leaders, in addition to 69 other adult visitors.