Hands-on learning took on a whole new meaning at MVCS over the past few weeks when a Robertson R-22 helicopter landed on the school’s field on two separate occasions. These were not emergencies or part of any drills, but opportunities that came about through the school’s work with HeliStream for our recent golf-ball-drop fundraiser. In addition to the helicopter, HeliStream sent two of their pilots to help lead classroom-based discussions, share their real-world experiences, and provide tours of the helicopter. Students even had the opportunity to sit in the pilot’s seat and view the navigational panel up close.
Mr. Mac enjoyed seeing the enthusiasm and curiosity on the student’s faces. He commented, “This is such an awesome experience for our students. Today’s lab and helicopter tour may be the catalyst for any number of these students to become aeronautical engineers, pilots, astronauts, or who knows what. The sky is not even the limit! We want to give our students opportunities like this and go outside the traditional classroom setting. We want them to be enthusiastic about school and inspired to learn.”
Our commitment to hands-on learning is evident by our expanded Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) Lab. The addition of a real-life helicopter introduced a whole new spectrum of learning opportunities. Initially, students spent time in the STEM Lab working on various grade-level-based projects studying aerodynamics, air propulsion, and navigation. They also had the opportunity to ask questions and hear stories from the pilots. Their lab time culminated with the hands-on helicopter tour.
Principal Sladek explained, “We are committed to preparing students with a 21st century education that includes innovative and hands-on approaches to learning, encompassing real-world applications. To the extent possible, we want to offer project-based learning that brings life and excitement to subjects previously taught with just theory and memorization. No book or lecture can ever replace the knowledge and understanding achieved through the experience of project-based learning. We have created a technology-rich environment on our campus that makes learning fun and encourages innovation as life-long learners. Our STEM lab and the helicopter experience are examples of this.”