Universal Avionics takes Amphi Middle School winning teams on Cessna flight

Nine students from Amphi Middle School won an amazing opportunity to be taken on a Cessna flight by pilots from Universal Avionics Systems Corporation (UASC). On Saturday, May 10, these students, accompanied by their Science & Engineering teacher, Scott Weiler, will fly from Marana airfield to the Tucson International Airport, in culmination of their winning presentations and designs.

Amphi students taking part in Mr. Weiler’s MESA/Robotics class participated for a second year in the Blue Marble Institute’s Champions for Change Program, which designs unique STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) projects for middle school classrooms across Tucson. Champions for Change (C4C) matches local industry experts and companies with teachers and their classrooms. C4C’s goal is to show students that STEM subjects are meaningful and fun especially through hands-on projects. “It’s about breaking down barriers for kids,” says, Jane Poynter, Blue Marble’s Executive Director. Making STEM relevant and interesting to middle school youth is the primary focus of C4C. With Ms. Poynter’s leadership, Universal Avionics has provided mentors, an extraordinary field trip experience, and the chance to see what flying is like up close.

Universal Avionics CEO, Paul DeHerrera, and the engaging employees that work at UASC are committed to inspiring youth by showing them the career opportunities within the aviation industry right here in Tucson. Mr. DeHerrera has said, “The Universal Avionics team always reports back as to how rewarding and fun the experience is and this year was no exception. We are pleased to be a part of this very worthwhile effort. We’ll look forward to taking the top students on their first flight.” Mentors from Universal Avionics work with Mr. Weiler’s students to better understand the aviation and navigation systems industry and aircraft design. This year’s project involved students learning to fly through flight simulators donated to the project from another industry partner, Redbird Flight Simulators. With this knowledge students then worked in teams to design unmanned aircraft. During their field trip to Universal Avionics students presented their designs in the UASC Board room with industries top professionals. The winning team designs and presentations were selected and awarded with the terrific opportunity to fly as a group in a Cessna, many of whom have never been on a flight until now. Last year, Universal Avionics took 5 of Mr. Weiler’s students on a flight. Zach Hanby, an 8th grader whose team won last year’s design project, said, “this is amazing. I know what I want to do now. This has changed my life.”

It’s an effort that is months in the making and would not happen without the commitment of such a motivational teacher as Scott Weiler and his willingness to work with Champions for Change and collaborate with industry professionals. Mr. Weiler brings much experience to the project through his own involvement with the Teachers in Industry Program. His students get a daily dose of inspiration and a can-do attitude with his guidance. Mr. Weiler understood the power of project-based learning when he asked C4C to help develop unique projects for his class. After last year’s 6th, 7th, and 8th grade project Mr. Weiler said, “Champions for Change has made a remarkable difference in how I reached my students. C4C offered us a dynamic corporate relationship with UASC that developed into guest speakers, demos, and field trips bringing real science and engineering to the student perspective. Students are motivated to continue learning and have now opened their eyes to a world of opportunities not previously
afforded them.”

ABOUT CHAMPIONS FOR CHANGE: Champions for Change (C4C) provides educators the tools
and resources they need to engage students in unique science-based learning opportunities.
C4C uses world-renowned athletes and their stories to draw students into science and language
arts, as well as hands-projects in their schools and communities. Role models include business
and STEM industry professionals, and community leaders who have chosen to give back –
inspire youth to become their own champions for change: change within themselves and in
their communities for a healthier planet. C4C is a proven program of the Tucson-based
nonprofit Blue Marble Institute.

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