Arlen Sykes has a passion and enjoys sharing it with his students.
Sykes runs the Aerospace Club at Kyrene de la Colina Elementary and has done so for the past six years. The club has about 40 regular members who meet three times a month to do experiments and learn about aerospace.
“The goal of this club is to share my love of aviation as well as getting these kids excited about STEM (science, technology, engineering and math),” Sykes said. “They learn how the different STEM fields relate to aerospace and how they can branch out if they want.”
Firing off homemade rockets at the school last Tuesday was the culminating event of the group. The kids designed and built their rockets after learning about the different aspects of engineering and flight.
Earlier in the year, the students did a project where they designed an airport, complete with an air traffic control tower.
“We talked about navigation and just all aspects of aviation,” Sykes said. “It was actually based off of how they teach real air traffic control. It’s surprising how many times these kids will do some maneuver that is something that I would expect from an actual air traffic controller.”
Club members got to see what they learned about in action later on when they traveled to Stellar Air Park in Chandler and had the opportunity to fly with one of the pilots there.
“They viewed different aircrafts, discussed markings, and this is the stuff they saw on their own airport,” Sykes said. “They got to meet aviation mechanics and learned about primary instruments in planes then the kids got in the plane, took off, went up and did a stop-and-go maneuver.”
The Colina Aerospace Club was awarded the Excellence in Aerospace Education Award (AEX) for the 2011-2012 school year. The fifth-graders at Colina were also awarded the ACE (Aerospace Connection in Education) award for aerospace education. Both awards were handed out by the Civil Air Patrol.