Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math --- or STEM -- has become the focus of many schools in our area. Now many companies are getting into the act.
Dozens of kids from public, private and charter schools all across North Texas met at one of the area’s biggest employers to help their STEM skills really take off.
Southwest Airlines pulled back their curtain, inviting students to the airline's Dallas headquarters and learn about aviation.
They soaked it up.
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“I’ve learned you need gravity and three other things for aerodynamics for a plane to fly ... lift, acceleration, gravity, and something else,” said sixth grader Jana Ampil.
Jana got her hands on a flight simulator and landed a Cessna safely on the ground at Dallas' Love Field Airport.
“Our goal is just to get kids excited about aviation and STEM-related careers, science, technology, engineering, mathematics, just opening their eyes to the possibilities they can have,” said Luke Stone, with Southwest Airlines.
Few eyes were wider than James Miranda.
"There’s kind of like a foam plane and then we had to put a penny on there for it to be the drag and gravity," said Miranda, a student at Uplift Triumph Preparatory School.
That young man already knew he loved math and science but didn’t know how important they were to flying planes.
"I want to be a pilot," he said. "Because, since I had a chance to do it, I want to do it in real life."
Sure the kids learned how to make killer paper airplanes, and met with the chief pilot, but one of the biggest lessons was that there’s a lot more to working at an airline than just flying planes.
"Everything from social media to aircraft mechanics, flight dispatchers to safety and security," said Karyn Luchi, with Southwest Airlines.
It’s all there to get these kids all the information they need, so they can soar. But, no matter how hard you try, sometimes they’re just going to be kids.
We asked Jana Ampil what she looked forward to do the most while at Southwest’s Aviation Day.
“I was looking forward to lunch,” she said.
Aviation day is just one of many education programs Southwest Airlines runs in North Texas schools: There’s an Adopt-a-Pilot program where the pilots send photos and souvenirs from their travels as well as a partnership where female mechanics help young girls to consider getting into that career path which is largely held by men.