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Back to Communications Home

New STEM focus taking flight in Albany

ALBANY, N.Y. (Sept. 28, 2017) -- About 100 teachers and staff members took advantage of an innovative STEM-related professional development opportunity at Thomas O’Brien Academy of Science and Technology on Sept. 22, attending a presentation by world-record pilot Capt. Barrington Irving.

 

Capt. Irving, the youngest pilot and first African-American pilot to fly around the world solo, visited the City School District of Albany to talk about The Flying Classroom, a project-based supplemental curriculum for kindergarten through eighth grade.

 

The materials also can be expanded to high school.

 

The district plans to implement The Flying Classroom as a pilot project (no pun intended!) at eight schools this fall: Arbor Hill Elementary School, North Albany Academy, Pine Hills Elementary School, TOAST, the Tony Clement Center for Education and all three middle schools.

 

While The Flying Classroom is STEM-focused (science, technology, engineering and math), it also includes activities related to geography, literacy, writing, art and social studies. Students work to develop critical-thinking, collaboration, communication and creativity skills as they navigate through the content.

 

Each Flying Classroom lesson is based on Capt. Irving’s global expeditions; he will return to Albany later this fall to meet with teachers and students to share more of his story. (Capt. Irving is pictured at right with (L-R): TOAST science teacher Art Flynn, Superintendent Kaweeda G. Adams, TOAST Principal Teresa Brown and TOAST computer teacher Deborah Whipple.)

 

Here is what a few teachers had to say following Capt. Irving’s presentation Sept. 22:

 

“I found the presentation very inspiring,” said Lisa Leonardo, a sixth-grade science teacher at Edmund J. O’Neal Middle School of Excellence. “It shows that when a student's curiosity is piqued about a topic, and when that student is truly engaged with what they are learning about, they can succeed and do anything they set their mind to. Capt. Irving is proof of that.”

 

As soon as I heard Capt. Irving speak about The Flying Classroom, I knew that I wanted to be a part of this amazing program,” said Pine Hills fifth-grade teacher Kate Stickley. “I am always looking for a way to bring the real word into the classroom and am inspired by all of the investigations I have seen. I could not wait to tell my scholars about this opportunity. As soon as they saw the video of the students actually building a car, they were as excited as I was and asked me, ‘When do we start?’ Their enthusiasm was contagious and we laughed together when I observed, ‘You already have!’ Now my students and I are brainstorming and making a plan by creating a list of questions we have and topics we want to explore. Thanks, Flying Classroom, for launching us on a new learning adventure.”

 

“He is so inspirational!” said TOAST's Whipple. “I can't wait to learn more about the modules and lessons! I'm so excited for our students to meet him and talk with him and also to read his book!”

 

The mission of the City School District of Albany is to educate and prepare all students for college and career, citizenship and life, in partnership with our diverse community. The district serves nearly 9,700 students in 18 elementary, middle and high schools. In addition to neighborhood schools, the district includes several magnet schools and programs, as well as other innovative academic opportunities for students, including four themed academies at Albany High School.

         
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