History Hook Boosts STEM Education in Colorado

PEYTON, Colo. – Student interest in science, technology, engineering and mathematics is taking off in Colorado Springs with a new aviation museum.

The National Museum of World War II Aviation opened in October. The founders partnered with the Colorado Consortium for Earth and Space Science to start an educational program for area kindergarten-twelfth grade students in April.

Deb Haase, an Academy School District 20 teacher on special assignment to CCESSE’s Challenger Learning Center, said the program supports STEM curricula with a hook into history.

About 700 students have benefited, said Haase. As a dozen seventh graders from Skyview Middle School in Falcon School District 49 arrived May 3, they marked the first time a middle school participated.

“The whole idea of the museum is to teach World War II aviation history,” said Debi Klaers, co-founder of the museum. She greeted the seventh graders as they entered its exhibit hangers, situated in the northwestern side of the Colorado Springs Airport.

Klaers said the museum is “for the people.” As the World War II veteran community diminishes, she says it’s exceedingly important to inspire youth to learn more about its history and equipment.

The museum is co-located with WestPac Restorations, a company restoring World War II aircraft.

History Hook Boosts STEM Education in ColoradoSeparated into four groups, the students learned about plane restoration, flying the Navy’s N3N-3 ” Yellow Peril” primary trainer, aircraft flight control surfaces using Styrofoam plates, and the pertinent events leading up to and during World War II.

Seventh grader Blake Horter, 13, explained his ambitions to be a Marine Corps pilot, as volunteer docent Iain Wayman explained N3N-3 flight controls. Wayman, 14, completed his first solo flight in March, using a restored Schweizer 2-22 glider.

“How can I sign up to be a volunteer,” said Horter, after handing his exhibit evaluation to Klaers. His class left after nearly three hours touring the museum.

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