The OU Extended Campus School of Aviation Studies hosted representatives from schools across Oklahoma and Texas on Saturday, April 13, to educate them on the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association’s (AOPA) High School Pathways program.
The program, which is part of AOPA’s You Can Fly High School Initiative, was developed to create a free, four-year, aviation-based science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) curriculum for high schools across the country in an effort to rebuild the pilot population and the aviation industry from the ground up.
Schools that adopt the program teach a course curriculum that AOPA has developed with professional instructional designers to align with rigorous math and science standards and that stands as its own unique, elective course of study for 9th-12th grade students, alongside other science and math classes.
According to AOPA, the courses are designed to capture the imagination and give students from diverse backgrounds the tools to pursue advanced education and careers in aviation fields. The program conforms to math and science standards and, in keeping with career and technical education best practices, will lead to a certification or industry-accepted test, such as the FAA Private Pilot knowledge test or a Part 107 drone pilot certification.
“AOPA has identified a gap in aviation youth education that no other organization is filling,” the organization said on the program's web page. “By working with high schools directly, we are helping to expose a diverse group of students to aviation that might otherwise never realize that a career as a pilot or in a drone-related field is completely within reach.”
Nearly 20 interested high schools from Oklahoma and Texas drove or flew in to the Max Westheimer Airport ground classroom center to learn about the program. Representatives of OU’s Sooner Flight Academy and aviation students from OU’s Flying Sooners flight team were also on hand to provide information to those in attendance about aviation education, their experiences in their aviation journeys and the robust possibilities of aviation careers as pilots, air traffic controllers, dispatchers and non-flying aviation management professionals.
According to AOPA, schools began teaching the 9th grade curriculum of the You Can Fly program in fall 2018. A total of 165 high schools nationwide will be teaching program courses to 9th-10th graders in the 2019-20 school year. Of those 165 schools, 91 will be using the AOPA curriculum for the first time, and 60 will have an aviation program for the first time.
To learn more about the AOPA’s You Can Fly High School Initiative and how it can be taught in your local school district, visit youcanfly.aopa.org/high-school/high-school-curriculum. To learn more about the OU Extended Campus School of Aviation, visit pacs.ou.edu/aviation. To learn more about Sooner Flight Academy, visit flightcamp.ou.edu.