Using aeronautics to increase engagement, comprehension, and interest in aviation STEM careers
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Since the initiation of STEM Education, the need for pilots and aircraft technicians has steadily increased as the number of people entering aviation career fields has been on the decline. The population in general remains unaware of rewarding career opportunities in aviation and aerospace as the focus in STEM careers has been on computers, information technology and healthcare. Will using aviation themes to teach science increase engagement, comprehension, and interest in aviation STEM careers. A unit on force and motion was taught using aviation themed activities. Pre and post assessments were administered to measure comprehension of force and motion concepts for treatment and non-treatment groups. The treatment group completed pre and post treatment surveys to measure their interest and awareness of aviation STEM careers. A post treatment questionnaire, and student interviews were used to determine both student engagement and interest in aviation careers. Data analysis indicated a small, but not significant increase in comprehension for the treatment group. Student awareness in aviation as a STEM career increased, while interest in aviation careers exhibited almost no change. Using aviation themes to teach certain science topics can increase student engagement, if used economically. Unless individual students have had a personal experience with aviation, beyond flying on a commercial airliner, the novelty may wear off quickly. Used strategically, using aviation themed activities can generate a greater interest for some students and certainly make others cognizant of the field.