Education Technology

Set your Students up to Soar with “STEM on the Fly”

Posted 02/16/2018 by Ellen Fishpaw (@ellenfishpaw)

At Texas Instruments, we love a good contest or quiz that helps get students and teachers excited about math and science. And, the winner of our latest #GenSTEM contest, gets us even more excited about math and science than usual. I didn’t even know that was possible!

Meet Alex Livingston, a sophomore at Tech Valley High School in Albany, New York and an aspiring commercial airline pilot. The 15-year-old submitted a photo showing how he uses math and science regularly as a volunteer in the Civil Air Patrol Cadet Program, an auxiliary of the U.S Air Force. We’ve since learned Alex is one of the youngest members of his local flying club to solo pilot a glider and has logged nearly 25 hours of flight time in his young life.  He’s kind of a big deal!

High school student inspires STEM on the Fly, a new classroom lesson that puts students at the controls of an airplane as they cruise through important math and science concepts.
High school student inspires “STEM on the Fly,” a new classroom lesson that puts students at the controls of an airplane as they cruise through important math and science concepts.

As part of his prize for winning the contest, Alex traveled to Dallas where he visited with mathematicians and scientists at TI, sat in the cockpit of a flight simulator at Dallas’ Love Field and filmed his starring role in a special, aviation edition of STEM Behind Cool Careers -- STEM on the Fly. “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 Alex. “It also helped me to connect what I need to learn in math and science class today to be successful as a pilot in the future.” 

The win landed Alex on several of his local news stations to talk about the activity he inspired, STEM on the Fly. See Alex in action:

While in Dallas, Alex met with veteran Southwest Airlines pilot, Captain Adam Schindall, who consulted on STEM on the Fly. The fun, free activity and accompanying video, that stars Alex, puts students at the controls of an intercontinental airliner as they cruise through the math and science that explain how wings work. Students will develop their problem-solving and analytical skills as they apply linear relationships, Bernoulli's Principal and Newton's third law of motion.

STEM on the Fly works on both the TI-Nspire CX and the 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.”

Get your students cleared for take-off here: