Sometimes the best teacher is experience.
For a group of Grove middle school and high school instructors, that adage proved true, as they were among those flying high over Grove last week with the Civil Air Patrol.
Organized by Dave Roberts, Grove Public Schools Safety Director, and Oklahoma Wing Vice Commander with the Civil Air Patrol, the event gave at least 10 members of the GPS community a chance to fly in one of three Civil Air Patrol planes as part of the inservice training on Tuesday, Feb. 21.
The program, part of the Civil Air Patrol’s STEM or Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics education component, was designed to not only introduce instructors to the Civil Air Patrol’s activities, but also educate them on what STEM kits are available to those joining the aerospace educator’s group.
Roberts said for a $35 per year membership fee, teachers have access to a variety of STEM education kits including those covering robotics, astronomy, weather, flight simulation, drones, rocketry and more.
“With the emphasis which is being placed on STEM education statewide,” Roberts said. “We can get these into the hands of teachers for almost nothing.”
Roberts said teachers are given a STEM kit, which in turn becomes their property. The only requirement is that the instructor provide a review of how the kit worked with their students, and what changes might be needed for the next school.
“Theoretically, you can do four or five of these kits a year, to supplement your curriculum,” Roberts said.
Because of his role with the Civil Air Patrol, Roberts has spent part of this year developing the pilot program for Oklahoma educators. He has taught two sessions with his Civil Air Patrol class at Grove Middle School – on weather and hydraulics, and plans to do others, including a robotics session, later this spring.
He said the hydraulics session gave his students a chance to see various principles of physics in action, rather than simply read about it in a text book.
Roberts has also led his students to build a weather station, which will eventually go atop the new Performing Arts Center. Once in place, those interested will be able to go to Weather Underground (www.wunderground.com) and see what the weather is for Grove.
Roberts hopes other schools will learn of the program and sign on for memberships.
While Grove instructors have become part of the program, other schools are learning about it. The Civil Air Patrol is actively working with educators in Fletcher, Durant, Afton and Muskogee to bring the program to those districts.
“It’s a win-win,” Roberts said. “It gets us [the Civil Air Patrol] exposure, we recruit new members, and they get quality materials for just a small membership free.”
During the morning session, Roberts demonstrated a variety of kits available for instructors. The afternoon session gave instructors and others from the district, including Grove Superintendent Sandy Coaly, and Grove School Board member Terry Jones, up in the air for flights.
Jones said he thought the program provided a great service to the community.
“It’s exciting,” Jones said. “I haven’t been in the air, except on an airline for 30 years. I didn’t realize all of the things that the Civil Air Patrol does.”
Debi Troppmann also flew during the afternoon session.
“Everything looks different from the air,” Troppmann said. “The lake looks bigger. I think it was great and neat to learn what all they do.
“It makes you want to learn to fly.”
Troppmann, who works in the high school office, said the session will help her as she talks with students about the opportunities available through the Civil Air Patrol.