Education Technology

High school student pilots aviation lesson, “STEM on the Fly,” to inspire middle and high school students to love STEM

The fun, high-flying lesson explores the math and science needed for a career as Southwest Airlines pilot

DALLAS – (January 24, 2017) A high school sophomore has won Texas Instruments’ (TI) #GenSTEM contest and a starring role in the latest edition of STEM Behind Cool Careers, an entertaining series of calculator activities and videos that introduce middle and high school students to unexpected STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) careers. The national contest, hosted by former professional football player turned full-time mathematician, John Urschel, asked students and teachers from across the country to submit photos showing how STEM inspires them.

Urschel selected the winning photo from Alex Livingston, a 15-year-old student at Tech Valley High School in Albany, New York and a volunteer with the Civil Air Patrol Cadet Program, an auxiliary of the United States Air Force. Livingston is one of the youngest members of his local flying club to solo pilot a glider and has already logged nearly 25 hours of flight time in his young life.

As part of his prize for winning the contest, the aspiring commercial pilot traveled to Dallas where he visited with mathematicians and scientists at Texas Instruments, got a behind-the-scenes tour of the McKinney National Airport and sat in the cockpit of a flight simulator at Southwest Airlines’ training facilities. “My trip to Dallas was an amazing way to see the different sides of flying and opened my eyes to the many career options that exist in the field of aviation,” said Livingston. “It also helped me to connect what I need to learn in math and science class today to be successful in an aviation career in the future.”

While in Dallas, Livingston met with Southwest Airlines veteran pilot, Captain Adam Schindall, who helped TI create the new aviation lesson, “STEM on the Fly.” The fun, free activity puts students at the controls of an intercontinental airliner as they cruise through the math and science that explain how wings work. It is designed for the TI-Nspire™ CX and TI-84 Plus CE graphing calculators and shows students how a solid understanding of STEM subjects is vital for almost any career, and especially aviation.

“Like many students today, I used to struggle with the importance of learning things like how to solve for X, but now I know, pilots solve for X all day, every day” said Capt. Schindall. “By connecting the things that students are already interested in, like flying, to the important concepts they need to learn, I hope this activity sets students up to soar in a future STEM career.”

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