Sooner Flight Academy Receives Grant, Launches Fall Virtual Programs


Sooner Flight Academy Receives Grant, Launches Fall Virtual Programs

The University of Oklahoma Sooner Flight Academy has received a grant of $46,000 from the Oklahoma Aeronautics Commission to fund their 2021 Summer Camp and Intern programs.

OAC’s Aerospace and Aviation Grant Program provides aviation education awards with the mission of fostering and encouraging students to consider aerospace or aviation as a career. The grant Sooner Flight Academy received was the largest single Aerospace and Aviation Education Program award presented this year from a total of over $330,000 awards.

“The Oklahoma Aeronautics Commission is proud to assist Sooner Flight Academy as a recipient of our aviation education grant program,” said Paula Kedy, Aerospace and Aviation Education Coordinator for the Commission. “The work being implemented by the university is extremely important to OAC’s goal of increasing aviation STEM education in Oklahoma.”

The grant will provide partial scholarship opportunities for students in grades K-12 to attend a Sooner Flight Academy summer camp, in addition to giving older campers the opportunity to work as staff and help younger campers develop the same love of aviation and science that they learned as campers.

“Sooner Flight Academy is truly grateful for the support of the Oklahoma Aeronautics Commission,” said program manager Dawn Machalinski. “For over 25 years, OAC grants have provided camp scholarships and funding for the SFA summer intern program. This has enabled SFA to inspire the youth of Oklahoma to explore the exciting world of aviation through the physics of flight. Many of our alumni have entered careers in the aviation and STEM fields, attributing much of their inspiration to attending SFA programs.”

"This summer’s virtual programming was a true success for many of our campers,” Machalinski said. “The online activities with demonstrations and interaction were available to our campers through the OU Canvas platform and daily Zoom interaction. Fun was the vehicle, and learning was the destination!"

The arrival of a global pandemic earlier this year couldn’t stop Sooner Flight Academy from providing campers with hands-on activities that create excitement for aviation and learning in STEM fields. In just a few short weeks, SFA’s staff re-imagined how camps could be delivered and offered their first-ever Virtual Summer Camps in June and July.

“This summer’s virtual programming was a true success for many of our campers,” Machalinski said. “The online activities with demonstrations and interaction were available to our campers through the OU Canvas platform and daily Zoom interaction. Fun was the vehicle, and learning was the destination!”

The success of these camps, along with the continued impact of COVID-19 on kids throughout the state, has led Sooner Flight Academy to launch a new series of virtual learning programs this fall that will not only help kids learn about aviation at home through fun physics activities but will also give them the chance to interact with other kids who are going on the same virtual adventure.

“Our Fall programming extends the fun physics,” Machalinski said. “We will have six weeks to explore the themes for each age group. Much of the content is from the summer camp curriculum, but students will have more time to complete the activities. The participants will receive a certificate of completion at the end of the program.”

These new virtual programs are just the beginning of Sooner Flight Academy’s foray into the digital realm, as they are currently exploring the launch of an augmented reality field trip app, as well as looking ahead to resuming in-person camps in Summer 2021.

Visit the Sooner Flight Academy website for more information about their new Fall Virtual Programs or to learn more about the aviation-related educational opportunities it offers. For more information about educational opportunities available for adults, visit pacs.ou.edu.

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Myk Mahaffey

Michael Mahaffey holds degrees in journalism and psychology. He is a writer and editor with more than a decade of experience writing for print and digital publications, including award-winning coverage of the rodeo industry. In his spare time, he writes fiction, in addition to tinkering with graphic design and photography.