(Editor Note: the following was submitted by Scott Murphy)
Over the past few years, community leaders have a launched a number of new efforts that are helping put Dayton back on the map. Initiatives to help our community become more immigrant friendly, secure Dayton as the Ohio hub for aerospace technology, and solidify our city as the starting place for the Road to the Final Four are big ideas (and many more) that help distinguish us from other cities. We’ve realized that if we want people to think of Dayton, then we’ve got to give them something to think about.
Air Camp is another effort uniquely Dayton. Started by local educators and retired Air Force and business community leaders, this program introduces middle school students from around the country to aviation and aeronautics. Think Space Camp at Huntsville, AL, but for aeronautics and aviation at the birthplace of flight. The intensive one week Air Camp combines the principles of aeronautics with hands on experience. The program’s packed curriculum pulls together the many assets around the region that together distinguish Dayton as a world-leader in flight.
Want to get a young person excited about flight? Show them airplanes… really cool ones. Students visit the National Museum of the United States Air Force on the program’s first day and see firsthand how Dayton has been at the cutting edge in aviation since Orville and Wilbur made their historic flight in 1903. Dayton remains on the cutting edge with the research that happens every day at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base. Air Camp shows students that almost all new developments in aerospace technology get their start or are at least impacted by researchers at Wright-Patt. In Dayton at the Air Force Research Lab, new aerospace technology goes from theory to application – ideas turn into reality. Program participants interact with these Air Force researchers and get a glimpse of what their future career could be like in science and technology.
Air Camp inspires and challenges its students with hands on learning in the principles of flight. Participants get the unique opportunity to learn the basics of aeronautics by actually designing and testing a wing in a wind tunnel. At Sinclair they participate in a half-day course on how to fly an airplane and get a thrill they’ll be sure to remember by piloting a motion-based flight simulator. It’s one thing to understand the physical principles of how planes fly; it’s another thing to actually feel it by flying one yourself. All Air Camp students get this opportunity at Wright Brothers Airport as a capstone activity near the end of the week.
Air Camp’s founders saw a nation-wide need for more scientists, engineers, and technicians. People like Vince Russo, a retired Air Force Executive who chose to make Dayton his home after retirement, hope Air Camp will inspire middle school students to choose a research and technology related vocation. Says Russo, “Our vision is to inspire students to pursue careers in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM). Air Camp is a ‘wow’ experience grounded by a solid academic curriculum to help create a technology savvy workforce for the future.”
Thanks to Air Camp, when these students grow up they’ll not only be more likely to pursue a career in aviation and aeronautics, they’ll know that Dayton, OH is the place to do it.
Air Camp applications are being accepted now for the 2012 summer sessions scheduled for June 17-22, July 8-13, and July 22-27. Up to 40 students will be chosen for each session by a competitive application process. Applications are being accepted online through April 30 at www.aircampusa.com from students entering the seventh through ninth grades in fall 2012.
Questions? Contact Tom Severyn at [email protected] to learn more.