Teachers become students for Airplane 101

As part of its STEM outreach efforts, Boeing gives teachers an interactive lesson about airplanes and aerodynamics they can take back to their classrooms

December 18, 2015 in Our Community

A group of teachers from the Puget Sound area attended Airplane 101, hosted by Boeing on Nov. 11 as part of the company’s STEM outreach efforts.

Thomas Hanser

Becoming students for the day, a group of Puget Sound-area teachers participated in interactive exercises illustrating basic aerodynamic principles such as lift, thrust, drag and weight that they could take back to their classrooms during a recent day-long Airplane 101 class in Everett, Wash.

The program, hosted by Flight Services Marketing and the Museum of Flight, is one way Boeing aims to build students’ interest and skills in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). By bringing teachers in to experience airplanes up close and talk with experts, Boeing gives them a unique perspective on the principles of flight, which they can then share with their students.

Larry Seto, product marketing manager of flight training for Flight Services, led the teachers through the interactive exercises. Later, the lessons came to life when group toured the Commercial Airplanes factory and the 787 Dreamliner static test bed, where they saw how Boeing simulates stresses on the airframe.

“I now can offer my students real-world examples of careers in aviation,” one teacher wrote in an anonymous evaluation of the class.

Another wrote, “I plan to use these teaching techniques and examples in my class.”

The teachers indicated that touring the production line —and taking aerospace knowledge beyond books — was particularly important to them. “I like having personal experience to refer to when teaching,” one teacher wrote.

As Boeing prepares to celebrate its centennial in 2016, preparing and inspiring future innovators is a key focus, and programs like this can help influence the education environment, according to Sherry Carbary, vice president of Boeing Flight Services. 

“Teachers play an incredible role in shaping our future workforce,” Carbary said “This was a great opportunity to give teachers the tools they need to incorporate basic aviation principles into their curriculum.”

By Diana Rhodes

Renee Amoe Olsen and Ken Toshiki Kumakura, both from Raisbeck Aviation High School, use simple props to try out exercises designed to illustrate basic aerodynamic principles.

Thomas Hanser