Thanks to a grant from the Walton Family Foundation and through partnership with the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum, Springdale Har-Ber High School will have the use of 15 flight simulators and two teacher stations for use by its Aviation Club.
In addition, Har-Ber will host the two-week S.H.E. Can STEM Summer Camp staged by the National Air and Space Museum. The camp is designed to help girls in underrepresented populations and under resourced schools build confidence and competence in STEM subjects, showing them their place in the pilot’s seat or in any other aviation or STEM career they choose to pursue.
“These simulators are as close to the real thing (airplanes) as you can get,” said Har-Ber Aviation Club sponsor Jason McMullin. “They are state of the art. They should be here in late January or early February. This will be the first STEM Summer Camp by the National Air and Space Museum anywhere bu the Washington, D.C. area. If this goes well, they hope to do the same thing in other areas of the country.
“We will have the opportunity to use the simulators throughout the school year. The camp itself will be open to girls from all over Northwest Arkansas, including Springdale.”
How did Har-Ber High become the designated location for the flight simulators?
“I attended a meeting with area educators, the Walton Philanthropy Group and the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum and was the only one doing aviation at one of the area schools,” McMullin explained. “We made a case to use the simulators for our Aviation Club as well as the camps.
“We started our Aviation Club two years ago and had five students. This year we have 51. It will continue to grow. This could really be something not only for Har-Ber but all of Northwest Arkansas. Having a national name brand recognition like the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum in Northwest Arkansas is great for our area.
“Not only will our students be able to use the simulators during the academic year, they will be able to serve as mentors at the camp. It will be hands on experience for our students and exposure for our club. It could lead to internships and apprenticeships.”
The Summer Camp targets female and minority students and is set for the next three years. Girls going into the seventh, eighth and ninth grades can apply. A total of 90 students per year will be accepted.
According to a release from Ignite Tomorrow, Har-Ber was selected “as an ideal base due to its central location and classroom space which will be provided free of charge. Har-Ber also has an established aviation program through teacher and sponsor Jason McMullin.”
The camp will include daily STEM focused design challenges, flight raining on simulators and two discovery flights with an instructor and tracking progress and building confidence through personalized flight log books, among other activities.
“Having the simulators will stimulate interest from around the area and specifically at Har-Ber,” said McMullin. “Several of our students are already working on their private pilot license. They can use the simulators to accumulate some of their hours. Stowe Hoffius is building a plane in his class at Har-Ber So, at Har-Ber students can build a plane, learn how the parts work and learn how to fly.”
The eventual benefits are nearly unlimited.
“Worldwide there is a shortage of pilots, mechanics and other positions in the aviation field,” McMullin said. “There are not enough skilled workers for jobs that are available. Training generally takes 18-24 months. The signing bonuses and beginning salaries are incredible.”
This is an amazing opportunity for Har-Ber students and the Summer Camp will be a lure for students from throughout Northwest Arkansas. Aviation technology and training is another reason Springdale Public Schools are #THEChoice.