Youth Career and STEM Enrichment Program Using Aviation and Robotics

Inner Banks STEM Center

Director: Alvin D Powell
President
Washington, NC

Project:   Youth Career and STEM Enrichment Program Using Aviation and Robotics

The Beaufort PAL (BCPAL) program offers summer camps and after school programming to middle and high school students in both Beaufort and Pitt county.  Options are being considered to offer some aspects of the program to students in additional counties through collaboration with other youth based organizations. Since 2015, the original program has been expanded and now incorporates a new aerospace STEM program for at-risk high-school students. Program partners include the NC Space Grant Program/ECU School of Engineering (Team); NASA; AmeriCorp STEMCorps EAST; Juvenile Crime Prevention Council; Redbird Flight Simulators, Inc; NC Department of Transportation-Aviation Division.   The program offers the following:

  • "Novel" four-week summer aviation and boating/marine ecology camp. This expanded camp offers two weeks of aerodynamics, weather, class projects, wind tunnel testing, parachute airfoils, drones, and flying an airplane. The third week transitions to boating, marine ecology, kayaking, and snorkeling/scuba diving. During the fourth week, participants learn to operate a sailboat.
  • Four month after-school program conducted at a local middle school. Students use engineering computer aided design (CAD) software to operate a 3-D printer to create parts to assemble into a battery-powered vehicle and test vehicle drag in a wind tunnel. Class projects include rocketry/robotics.  
  • A new two-week summer camp program exposes high school students to the aerospace environment and airplane flight using a structured ground school syllabus and a full-motion Redbird flight simulator. No other youth STEM program in the world uses a Redbird full-motion simulator. The curriculum incorporates aircraft STEM concepts, aerodynamics, and critical thinking/problem solving. This is currently the only high school after-school STEM program in Beaufort County. 
  • Annual STEM Career Day Event at the Beaufort County Community College, Beaufort County, NC, which helps recruit middle school aged students to our programs; 250-300 students attend. NASA is one of the participants in addition to Vidant Health which provides a EastCare medi-vac helicopter.

Our programs utilize a unique holistic approach intergrating STEM, Life-skills, and fitness. We teach hand, eye, and brain spatial coordination, scientific inquiry, and discipline to at-risk students while helping generate an interest in science. Our programs incorporate "state of the art" airplane flight training devices/simulators and remote control airplanes/Cyber Drones with artificial intelligence/autonomous navigation  (robotic devices) to demonstrate STEM concepts.