The JROTC STEM Leadership Academy set its sights on the sky this year, as more than 150 Mobile County JROTC cadets were challenged with STEM projects relating to aviation at this month’s camp.
The residential camp, based at Spring Hill College, includes STEM instruction at SHC and the University of South Alabama, business and industry site visits, and leadership activities such as rappelling, drown-proofing and orienteering. With this year’s focus on aviation, cadets were challenged with STEM design projects related to flight and took site visits to the U.S. Coast Guard, Airbus, VT MAE, Continental Motors, Flight Training of Mobile and the Alabama Aviation Center.
“It is an incredible opportunity for the youth in our area,” said Susan Pruet of STEMWorks LLC, a coordinator of the academy. “They learn what kind of requirements they need, what kind of academics they need, and they start seeing that there are some exciting things ahead for them, if they do the right things and make good decisions right now. It’s really good to bring the relevance from the classroom – the math and science – to what happens out of the classroom in the businesses and industry, so they’ll see that relevance and hopefully study harder and want to take more math and science when they see the cool jobs they can get.”
The STEM design challenges at this year’s camp included: designing and building an aircraft constructed of paper and other materials to learn about
aerodynamics; constructing a glider aircraft with emphasis on wing design and function; and testing flight capability after improvements were incorporated into the prototype.
The academy is sponsored by Mobile County Public Schools, the Mobile Area Chamber of Commerce and a collection of local businesses, postsecondary institutions, community organizations and foundations. It is designed to increase awareness of high-paying STEM career opportunities in the Mobile area and the skills needed to land those jobs, while also focusing on leadership development, and critical thinking skills.
The 150 cadets participating were the most in the three-year history of the program.