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Mishawaka teachers taking flight for STEM education

Mishawaka teachers taking flight for STEM education // WSBT 22 Photo

From classroom to cockpit, three teachers from the School City of Mishawaka just got the thrill of a lifetime.

The St. Joe Valley Cadet Squadron of the Civil Air Patrol took them up in the air on a small plane. The ride was not only fun, but it gave those teachers a real-world dose of STEM experience.

Before they took flight, they went through pre-flight briefings inside and outside at the Elkhart Municipal Airport.

After learning all of the gadgets of the plane and what to expect once airborne, they hopped aboard.

An experienced pilot controlled the plane during take-off and landing, but each teacher got to take the reins for the first time when the aircraft reached about 2,000 feet.

It was cruising at a speed of 150 knots.

Second grade teacher at Beiger Elementary School Sara Hoover said, “It was amazing to look at all the instruments and have to keep track of everything at the same time."

She said that moment in the air made her remember how her students can feel in the classroom.

“It was nice to put ourselves in the same spot that students are in to where you are a little nervous, a little apprehensive at times, but you need to take that risk. That’s where we kind of felt like we were kids at that moment," said Hoover.

Eighth grade teacher at John Young Middle School Walt Buras said being scared about learning new things is natural, but by doing them people can figure out what they’re good at.

“You always have that fear in the back of your mind that something’s going to happen, you know, if I turn a little too far, but it’s a learning experience for everybody. You have to try it at some point," said Buras.

For second grade teacher at Twin Branch Elementary School Shelly Sparrow, the trial and error of early STEM education is helping her students develop new skills.

Sparrow said, “It’s exciting for the kids. The hands-on inquiry-based, you know, to have them discover. They retain more information. It gives them a lot of exposure to areas but they didn’t even know existed.”

The teachers hope the momentum from the flight can be carried into their classrooms -- encouraging students to hold on to their curiosity, explore new areas and never stop learning.

“I think that’s our job to create lifelong learners and to show them all the different aspects there are all the possibilities that are out there," said Hoover.

“They know that it’s out there and it’s attainable, that they can do it," said Sparrow.

The teachers will be working with students at a STEM camp in a couple of weeks.

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