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Kyrene Centennial Students Explore Aviation and STEM in Afterschool Clubs

Posted April 2023


Several Kyrene Centennial Middle School students have manned their own aircraft during flights from San Diego to Phoenix. Simulated flights, that is.


“Students started out learning about the instruments in the plane and what they are used for and now we’re on what airliners do,” said Panther. “They set up the auto pilot, they do the precheck and it even does the passenger seatbelt sign noise and everything.”


Two after-school clubs new to Centennial this year are the STEM Club, supervised by STEM teacher Dave Carras and Aviation Club, which is supervised by 8th grade social studies teacher David Panther. In Aviation Club, students learn the entire process for flying an aircraft, via a virtual flight simulation game, from takeoff to landing, keeping the checklists up on their phones.


STEM Club similarly allows students to take part in projects with real-world parallels. This year, students participated in the Future City Competition, where students work in small teams to imagine, plan, design and build a model of a city that is 100 years or more in the future.


The two groups have even come together to share the wealth of knowledge from their club supervisors. On a windy day in February, Mr. Carras’ father-in-law, who is an avid collector and flier of remote-control model airplanes brought in a few of his favorites to demonstrate the physics and mechanics of flight firsthand. Students were amazed at how quickly the small planes moved and how much concentration is required to ensure the planes don’t crash, especially on windy days.


After the flight demonstration, students who brought drones from home flew them around with their classmates as well.


Aviation and STEM Club are both open to students in 6th to 8th grade. Aviation club meets on Fridays from 3:10-4:30 p.m. STEM Club meets Tuesday and Thursday from 3:05-4:30 p.m.