Civil Air Patrol Inspires Teachers at Houston Aerospace Conference

HOUSTON –  K-12 Teachers gathered from all over the world to learn about integrating Aerospace Education and STEM into their classrooms at the annual Space Exploration Educators Conference (SEEC) February 4 – 6.

CAP pilots Capt. Richard Erickson (far right) and Maj.Gerard Bulhon (third from right) with SEEC teachers at Ellington Field prior to teacher orientation program flights.

CAP pilots Capt. Richard Erickson (far right) and Maj.Gerard Bulhon (third from right) with SEEC teachers at Ellington Field prior to teacher orientation program flights.

The event, which was hosted by Space Center Houston, is the premier Aerospace Education outreach activity specifically for teachers conducted by NASA Johnson Space Center. This year marks the seventh consecutive year Civil Air Patrol has participated in the conference and is proudly recognized as a SEEC Partner.

During the event, teachers attended seminars, toured behind the scenes at Johnson Space Center, heard special presentations by astronauts, networked with like-minded aerospace educators, and gathered information from organizations that work in the aerospace industry.

CAP’s Montgomery, Ala., National HQ Aerospace Education team, Debbie Dahl, Sue Mercer and Ginny Smith, attended the conference and assisted in all areas of the CAP presence.  Texas Wing Aerospace Education Officers, Lt. Col. Levant Vural, director, and 1st Lt. Richard Bonica, internal AE officer, manned an exhibit booth filled with information on CAP’s free K-12 aerospace/STEM programs/products and hands-on-demonstrations of CAP’s STEM Kit Program, which included astronomy, model and remote control aircraft, robotics, rocketry and flight simulator equipment. Teachers and CAP squadrons alike can apply to receive the STEM Kits free of charge and prior experience in aerospace is not required since the packet includes a detailed educational guide and instructions.

The National HQ Aerospace Education team also presented more of CAP’s free educational programs, to include the unique K-6 grade-level specific Aerospace Connections in Education (ACE) program, to the event’s attendees during a hands-on seminar.

CAP supported the conference in other ways, too, with events coordinated annually by Maj Stuart Hagedorn, Texas Wing assistant director of operations and SEEC project officer. At nearby Ellington Field, members of the Texas Wing worked with the Air National Guard’s 147th Reconnaissance Wing to fly educators as part of CAP’s free Teacher Orientation Program.  With excellent weather conditions, detailed planning, and skillful execution by its members, CAP was able to provide orientation flights to 59 teachers in a Cessna 172 and 182, as well as the GippsAero GA-8 aircraft.

For many of the teachers, their CAP orientation flight, which allowed them the opportunity to take control of the aircraft and receive introductory instruction in the basics of aviation, was the first time they had flown in a small aircraft.

After the flights, the 147th Air National Guard provided tours of their facilities and military aviation technology. CAP’s Ellington Composite Squadron assisted with ground coordination and transporting teachers to and from Space Center Houston and Ellington Airport. Lt. Col. Eric Boe, Ellington Composite Squadron’s director of cadet programs and NASA astronaut, also met and discussed the space program with the teachers. The Texas Wing Commander, Col. Sean Crandall, was a part of this exciting external CAP Aerospace Education event to inspire educators who then ignite aerospace interest in youth, who may become CAP cadets. With all of these activities and special visitors, the teachers left the airfield with smiles, pictures and great stories to share with their students.

The success of the SEEC program will ultimately lead to increased aerospace and STEM learning opportunities for students of all ages. Through its support of the event each year, CAP continues to reinforce the important role Aerospace Education has in classrooms to teachers across the nation and around the globe.

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