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Civil Air Patrol Cadets Share Passion for Aerospace Education with Peers

students building wind tunnel
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Cuthbertson High School students construct their wind tunnel. Photo Credit: 1st Lt Sarah Stevens, CAP (click image to view full size)
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Cadets from NC-300 help physics students build wind tunnel and airfoils

6/4/2018––More than 30 physics students at Cuthbertson High School were given a unique opportunity as part of the Civil Air Patrol's (CAP) Aerospace Education mission. On Thursday, 24 May 2018, two MER-NC-300 CAP cadets introduced the school community to CAP, by teaching STEM and aerospace concepts to eager learners.
CAP promotes aviation and related fields through aerospace education and aims to shape future leaders through CAP’s cadet programs. The Composite Squadron of the Waxhaws Squadron Commander, 1st Lt Sarah Stevens, noted that cadet-led science classroom mentoring is helpful to CAP cadets and to our local communities. “When our future leaders are given an opportunity to share their knowledge and enthusiasm for aerospace with peers, everyone wins,” said Lt Stevens.

LeTourneau University Sophomore C/Lt Col Daniel Payne (MER-NC-300) briefed high school seniors, juniors and sophomores on college expectations. Cadet Payne openly shared his individual experiences with the transition from high school to college and gave the students some pointers on how to prepare for college and how to do well in future endeavors. Cadet Payne assuaged the fears and anxiety of the aspiring Cuthbertson High School graduates. “It can be easy to get distracted,” coached Cadet Payne, “just stay focused and disciplined.”

Cuthbertson students then had an opportunity to reflect on how early engineering design principles are still used today. “History tells us that the Wright Brothers built a wind tunnel in 1901,” C/SSgt Richard Stevens told the cadets. “What they learned resulted in a 12 second flight in North Carolina.” Cadet Stevens reminded the students to never give up, even if their experiments did not seem to be working.

Most of the day was spent building a wind tunnel and airfoils to test in the wind tunnel. C/Lt Col Payne and C/SSgt Stevens successfully inspired upperclassman students to build a working wind tunnel and championed the underclassman design of several different airfoils. Both cadets and students had grins on their face as they left, feeling an obvious sense of accomplishment. 

As the young CAP leaders reflected on the day, Cadet Stevens experienced leadership in action, admitting that teaching students older than him was a bit intimidating at first. "At first, I didn't know how the students would respond to me. In the end, it was an enjoyable day and I had a lot of fun."

Cadet Payne felt the joy of giving back to his community and encouraging enthusiasm for aerospace education.  “I am glad I had an opportunity to help them." said C/Lt Col Payne.  

At the end of the session, Cuthbertson Teacher Angel Hull joined CAP as an Aerospace Education Member. As such, she will have access to STEM kits that she can use to enrich other classroom experiences.  

CAP, the auxiliary of the U.S. Air Force, includes aerospace education and cadet programs, in addition to emergency services, in its three-fold mission. The cadet program strives to transform youth into dynamic Americans and aerospace leaders. The aerospace education program promotes aerospace, aviation and STEM-related careers for youths inside and outside of CAP’s cadet program.