Since the beginning of this school year, about two dozen students at the Rhea County Academy have been participating in a unique STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math), education program. Members of the Rhea County Composite Squadron of the Civil Air Patrol have been working with Kristen Lorenzen, AEM, the Aerospace Education Officer at Rhea County Academy and Mrs Burdine, the class teacher, to bring an aerospace educational program to the students.
The class is held for 50 minutes, two or three times each week, utilizing free materials from the Civil Air Patrol, which focuses on principles of flight, the history of aviation, the space program and more. Earlier in the year, the class took a field trip and spent some time at the Dayton airport.
Along with members from the Civil Air Patrol, they conducted a preflight check of a CAP Cessna 182, conducted by 1st Lt. Justin Smith, CAP.
More recently, several of the students attended a lecture given by Henry Kuhlman, PhD, a nuclear physicist and professor at Southern University. During this lecture, the students learned about “black holes” in space, and what stars are made of.
In addition to preparing the students with a STEM-based education, a couple of the students have joined the local Civil Air Patrol squadron, and are actively participating in the “CAP Cadet Program” (for students between 12 and 18 years of age), which is a youth develop program that incorporates aviation and military customs and courtesies. "Through their experience as CAP cadets, young people develop into responsible citizens and become tomorrow’s aerospace leaders. The leadership skills, self-confidence, and discipline cadets gain through CAP prepares them to achieve whatever goals they set for themselves in life," officials said.
To fulfill its goal of developing young people into responsible citizens and aerospace leaders, the Cadet Program is developed around five program elements: Leadership, Character Development, Aerospace Education, Physical Fitness and Activities. As cadets participate in these five elements, they advance through a series of achievements, earning honors and increased responsibilities along the way.
Contact Maj. John Yost, the squadron commander of the Rhea County Composite Squadron for additional information about CAP, the aerospace education program at Rhea County Academy. He can be reached at 423-240-3140 or KC4KTB@gmail.com The squadron meets at 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday evenings (three times per month) at the Mark Anton / Rhea County Airport, 154 Walter Squire Road.
Civil Air Patrol, the longtime all-volunteer U.S. Air Force auxiliary, is the newest member of the Air Force’s Total Force. In this role, CAP operates a fleet of 560 aircraft, performs about 90 percent of continental U.S. inland search and rescue missions as tasked by the Air Force Rescue Coordination Center and is credited by the AFRCC with saving an average of 80 lives annually. CAP’s 61,000 members also perform homeland security, disaster relief and drug interdiction missions at the request of federal, state and local agencies. In addition, CAP plays a leading role in aerospace/STEM education, and its members serve as mentors to over 26,000 young people participating in CAP’s Cadet Programs.