There is no better place to experience STEM than inside the hull of an engineering marvel, all 888 feet and 30,000 tons of it. Commissioned during WWII in 1943, the USS Yorktown sits in Charleston Harbor and is a part of Patriots Point Naval & Maritime Museum located in the town of Mt. Pleasant, South Carolina. Both the ship and its salty setting, alongside overnight accommodations, create a one-of-a-kind opportunity for hands-on learning.
Whether visiting for the day or extending your stay, there are multiple options to meet your STEM education needs. The Flight Academy at Patriots Point provides a menu of fully immersive aviation programs designed to integrate invaluable soft skills, like communication and teamwork, with science, technology, and math. It goes without saying that showcasing careers is paramount and in this way the Flight Academy goes above and beyond. Participants aren’t simply shown a career in a STEM field- they are doing. “We all said we wanted to probably be doctors or lawyers growing up, but this allows them to actually try out being an aviator, an air traffic controller- it exposes them to these careers,” says Flight Academy Program Coordinator, Kenny Brinckman. The Flight Academy has created age appropriate classes for specific age ranges, targeting concepts like force and motion, and also for specific groups such as JROTC units.
The fun doesn’t stop with Flight Academy. The museum’s Charleston Harbor backdrop is the perfect place to explore saltwater science. While several science programs in the shipboard Education Center use the surrounding estuary as a platform to address a variety of STEM and standards-based concepts (including force and motion, properties of matter, ecosystems, oceans, and landforms) it is the Marine Science Program that delves deeper. Science Program Coordinator, Hannah Giddens says that this program is near and dear to her not only because of her background in marine biology but because she likes to highlight that we are all inherently scientists. “We all question, we all observe, and we all explore from the moment we are born. I think it is important to humanize scientists and science practices because for some learners it seems intimidating and such a far reach. Science is truly for everyone.” The Marine Science Program is not lecture-based, but rather through a series of group activities students are introduced to qualitative and quantitative observation-making skills while setting the stage for more in-depth exploration of marine science. A highlight is always the Education Center Wet Lab featuring various aquatic animals that make the USS Yorktown their home.
All education programs onboard the USS Yorktown strive for, and achieve, authenticity. Program instructors are chosen with care and are often experts in their field- whether veterans, veteran aviators, oceanographers, marine biologists, or formal educators, they know their stuff. Tens of thousands of guests enjoy these structured classes each year. Isn’t it about time to make your reservation? Learn more about Patriots Point Naval & Maritime Museum and its educational programs at PatriotsPoint.org!
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