EAA Cancellation Put Scholarship and AirAcademy Opportunities for Students on Hold
By Dr. Lee Siudzinski
What did I really miss, now that July has come and gone? Well, like thousands of others, AirVenture 2020! The decision to cancel was obviously in everyone’s best interest. Making AirVenture safe has always been a key component of this annual event.
I have attended the last 10 years of AirVenture faithfully. The event has a special draw and meaning because it is a place and event where you meet your old friends and make new ones.
As Executive Director of the Blue Sky Educational Foundation (BSEF), two aspects of AirVenture have a special meaning for me.
One, is the scholarships our BSEF/Jim Thompson Foundation administers for students from throughout the United States to attend the very special EAA AirAcademy. Each year BSEF brings eight students from throughout the United States to AirVenture for the first time, but surely not their last time. We also bring two of those students from the previous year back to work as interns at the Air Academy. These experiences are life changing for the students, their families and friends.
After AirVenture was canceled this year, the task of informing students from Texas, New Mexico, and Washington that they would have to wait until next year to attend was a difficult one. In addition to first expressing their incredible disappointment, the second reaction was, can we come next year. The answer was yes!
The second aspect is visiting and supporting KidVenture. I have been involved with this incredible family event since its inception. When it began, I served as the Executive Director for the Science, Math, and Technology Project for the EAA and worked closely with Dan Majka who started KidVenture. He and hundreds of volunteers each year help make this a special place for families to share the excitement and aviation/STEM learning opportunities together. It is amazing how it has grown from a tent behind the Eagle Hangar for several hundred kids and their parents, to a host of buildings and displays adjacent to Pioneer Airport with thousands attending each day during AirVenture.
To all my friends and friends to be, see you next at AirVenture 2021. I know it is going to be the best ever, until 2022 of course.
Student Trip with Citation Jet Pilots Postponed Due to Coronavirus
The Citation Jet Pilots with support from Blue Sky planned a trip for 20 students from the Sanford Middle School, Florida to spend 3 days at the National Flight Academy in Pensacola, Florida. The student/parent meeting was to be held on April 3-5, 2020, but unfortunately was postponed due to the Coronavirus. As you can imagine everyone was disappointed, but the trip will be rescheduled next Fall. The Sanford students were to be joined by the Taos Middle School students on this exciting aviation excursion. The Taos students, sponsored by Blue Sky, will also be rescheduled next Fall.
Ada, Oklahoma Students Experience Aviation at CAF HDQ in Dallas
On March 6th a group of thirty-five 5th and 6th grade students from Ada, Oklahoma participated in a hands-on aviation program at Commemorative Air Force (CAF) Headquarters in Dallas, TX. The opportunity was a collaborative effort by the Blue Sky Foundation, Commemorative Air Force, and Ada, OK students. The students were joined by Ada curriculum Director Paula Kedy. The program was developed by Nancy McGee, Vice President of Education at CAF. This great opportunity was done in cooperation with Dr. Lee Siudzinski, Executive Director of Blue Sky Educational Foundation.
Blue Sky Foundation Participates in 2019 United Airlines AOPA High School Aviation STEM Symposium in Denver
The 2019 United Airlines AOPA High School Aviation STEM Symposium sponsored by Boeing brought dedicated educators from around the nation for two full days of sharing insights, ideas, and best practices for starting and building aviation STEM programs.
The Symposium held on November 10-12, 2019, is the only high school event in the nation that specifically targets aviation and aerospace content.
With the need for pilots, aerospace engineers, scientists, technologists, and technicians continuing to grow, the STEM Symposium was a great opportunity for educators and administrators to discover how they can prepare students for success in these exciting and well-paying careers.
Attendees were able to learn from experts in aviation education with two full days of breakout sessions, keynote speakers, and networking opportunities. Speakers with a wealth of experience in education, aviation and aerospace participated, including Mark Moore, Director of Engineering, Vehicle Systems, for Uber.
Blue Sky Foundation Executive Director, Lee Siudzinski, who serves on the AOPA High School Advisory Committee, was selected to serve as Chair beginning in January of 2020.
Blue Sky Foundation Helps Taos Middle School Students Explore Colorado Museums
The Taos Middle School Aviation class spent Friday, October 11th in Denver, Colorado. They spent the morning at Wings Over the Rockies Air and Space Museum experiencing a special tour. The museum is the official aviation and space museum for the state of Colorado.
In the afternoon the students went to the Exploration of Flight Museum in Centennial, Colorado, where they had the opportunity to do a series of drone experiments.
Taos Community Holds Annual Fly-In
The community of Taos held their annual fly-in on Saturday September 7, 2019 – a beautiful day for flying. Approximately 100 students were provided a flight opportunity by local and visiting pilots. This annual community event is supported by the airport FBO along with support by the Blue Sky Foundation.
In addition, Blue Sky sponsors an aviation class at the Middle School and has supported aviation STEM at an elementary school.
Blue Sky Foundation Sponsors Students to Attend Advanced Air Academy at AirVenture 2019
The Blue Sky Foundation annually sponsors students to attend the Advanced Air Academy during EAA’s AirVenture. Students this year (2019) represented Dallas (Home of Blue Sky), Grand Prairie, Texas and Taos, New Mexico. The Foundation also provides airfare for the students to attend. The Foundation also funds two internships during the summer for Air Academy.
Blue Sky Foundation Exhibits at San Antonio Aviation and Aerospace Hall of Fame Awards Dinner
The Blue Sky Foundation exhibited at the Dee Howard Foundation (DHF) 2019 San Antonio Aviation and Aerospace Hall of Fame Awards Dinner held on April 4, 2019. DHF joined together, in collaboration with other local, state, and national partners, to organize the 2019 event, which was hosted by GDC Technics at their state of the art hangar at Port San Antonio.
The event, attended by nearly 700 people, featured the induction of 2019 honorees and the presentation of the second annual DHF STEM Education Excellence Award (SEEA). In addition, attendees enjoyed a reception with entertainment provided by the 323D Army Band, dinner with the presentation of the Colors by the 433rd Color Guard and the singing of the National Anthem by country music singer and songwriter Rebecca Henricks. There was also a display of current and vintage U.S. military and civilian aircraft and exhibits by some of DHF’s education partners, which included the Blue Sky Foundation.
Photo above – Dr. Lee Siudzinski and Dr. Bonnie Dunbar.
Bonnie J. Dunbar, PhD was the Keynote Speaker. Dr. Dunbar is the TEES Eminent Research Professor at Texas A&M University-College Station, Texas, a five time Shuttle Astronaut, and a former president & CEO of the Museum of Flight in Seattle, Washington.
Blue Sky Foundation Participates in AOPA High School Advisory Committee Meeting
The AOPA High School Advisory Committee met April 14 and 15th, 2019 at AOPA Headquarters in Frederick, Maryland and was attended by Dr. Lee Siudzinski, Executive Director of the Blue Sky Educational Foundation.
The committee provided feedback on curriculum updates and suggestions for the annual Aviation High School Symposium to be held at the United Airlines training center in Denver, Colorado on November 10-12, 2019. The Blue Sky Foundation sponsored the working dinner meeting which was held the night before on Sunday, April 13, 2019.
Sanford Middle School Students and Teachers Take NFA Cruise in Pensacola
Twenty-nine students and teachers from Sanford Middle School arrived at the National Flight Academy (NFA) in early March to attend a 3-day cruise to explore STEM topics through aviation simulation. The students stayed on the “Ambition” a model of the navy vessel located at the Naval Air Station in Pensacola. Students also had an opportunity to visit the world class Naval Aviation Museum in Pensacola.
This annual trip, March 3-5, 2019 was funded by Chick and Lisa Gregg of Sanford, Florida in conjunction with the Blue Sky Educational Foundation. All parents and students attended an orientation prior to the trip on January 30, 2019 at the Sanford Middle School. The trip was a reward for outstanding efforts and performance in the Aviation Class at Sanford Middle School directed by teacher Paul Griffith.
Cruises are designed for students in the 5th-12th grade as an introduction to the National Flight Academy’s flagship, Deployment program. For three days, students stay overnight and are exposed to a variety of concepts including Meteorology, Aerodynamics, Mathematics, Bathymetry, Physics, Basics of Flight, Ballistics and Search and Rescue fundamentals.
For more information on the National Flight Academy, visit: NFA
Students from Leesburg High Cruise with National Flight Academy in Pensacola
On March 3-5, 2019 twenty-eight students and teachers from Leesburg High School, Leesburg Florida attended the National Flight Academy (NFA) in Pensacola, Florida. The students, part of the school’s ROTC program, participated in the 3-day cruise aboard the aircraft carrier Ambition.
During that time they had an opportunity to engage in aircraft simulation planning and exercises. They also stayed aboard the Ambition in quarters similar to a navy vessel. This exciting opportunity was made possible by Bill and Becky Bryan who have automobile dealerships in the Leesburg area.
The students also visited the Naval Aviation Museum adjacent to the NFA. A meeting with students and parents was held in January prior to the trip. The teacher who directs the aviation class is MSgt Craig Morris.
For more information on the National Flight Academy, visit: NFA
The Blue Sky Foundation presented their Aeronautical STEM Curriculum and Kit for upper elementary grades at the AOPA High School Symposium held in Louisville, KY on November 4-6, 2018. “Blue Sky supports the Symposium each year,” said Dr. Siudzinski, who serves on the Advisory Board for the AOPA high school initiative. The Symposium included a tour of the UPS facility in Louisville. Pictured at top at the Symposium, from right, is AOPA President Mark Baker, Katie Pribyl, Senior VP, Aviation Strategy and Program, and Dr. Lee Siudzinski, Executive Director Blue Sky Educational Foundation. (Photo below - Dr. Lee Siudzinski sits in the cockpit of a UPS plane.)
The Taos, New Mexico Middle School aviation class traveled by coach to Denver on October 19, 2018 to spend a day at the Wings Over the Rockies Air and Space Museum in Denver and the Exploration of Flight Museum at Centennial Airport.
The class poses under a B-52 in front of the Wings Museum.
The Blue Sky Foundation Partners with the Dee Howard Foundation
Taos Middle School Aviation Class Sponsored Annually by Blue Sky Foundation
On an annually basis, the Blue Sky Foundation sponsors an aviation class at the Taos, New Mexico Middle School. This class is taught daily throughout the school by teacher Jackie Graham through the support of Principal Alfred Cordova. Students who successfully complete the course and positively contribute to the school and community are provided a 4 day trip to the EAA Air Academy in Oshkosh, Wisconsin with school board approval since this involves out-of-state travel by commercial aircraft. Pictured above is the 2018-2019 class in front of Taos Middle School.
Blue Sky Supports Annual Youth Flight Rally in Taos
Blue Sky participated and supported the annual Youth Flight Rally at the Taos Municipal Airport on September 8, 2018. This event is organized by Kino Chavez, Taos Aviation Services Manager and Blue Sky Representative, Judy Esquibel, Taos Community events coordinator. Over 75 students received a special airplane ride and flight briefing. Thanks go to community members and resident pilots from the Taos area. Seasonal residents also participated from the Dallas area.
Annually the Blue Sky Educational Foundation provides 8 scholarships to attend the 9 day camp during AirVenture. In 2018 the campers were from Dallas, Texas, Albuquerque and Questa, New Mexico. The interns were from Dallas and Albuquerque.Interns work all summer at the EAA Air Academy and are salaried as a part of the scholarships. All campers and interns scholarships include airline flights. Above photo is in front of the EAA Air Academy. Pictured with the campers and interns are Dr. Lee Siudzinski, Executive Director, Blue Sky and Dallas Blue Sky Volunteers James and Jane Quinn.
Sanford Students Attend National Flight Academy
On April 6, 7, and 8, 2018, students from the Sanford Middle School, Sanford, Florida attended the National Flight Academy in Pensacola, Florida. The students were sponsored by Chick and Lisa Gregg from Sanford, Florida. A student and parent information meeting was conducted prior to the trip to discuss details. This meeting was also attended by Chick and Lisa Gregg, Dr. Lee Siudzinski, Blue Sky Foundation Executive Director, and Sanford Aeronautical Teacher Paul Griffith.
Aeronautical STEM Curriculum and Kit Presented at National Science Teachers Regional Meeting
Milwaukee, Wisconsin. November 2017 – The Aeronautical STEM Curriculum and Kit for upper elementary students and teachers was presented at the National Science Teachers regional meeting for teachers and administrators.
Baltimore, Maryland. October 2017. The Aeronautical STEM Curriculum and Kit was presented at National Science Teachers regional meeting for teachers and administrators.
Orlando, Florida. July 2017 – The Aeronautical STEM Curriculum and Kit was presented at the National Science Teachers annual STEM Conference.
GRAND PRAIRIE, TX. January 1, 2017 – The Grand Prairie Independent School District (GPISD) and the Blue Sky Educational Foundation partnered to implement the Aeronautical STEM Curriculum and Kit for the district’s 5th graders.
K-12 STEM Director Nancy McGee said this curriculum and kit provides upper elementary students with outstanding STEM content through the motivation of aviation science.
ARLINGTON,VA. August,26, 2014 – Jim and Angela Thompson were selected to receive The Mervin K. Strickler, Jr. Award. The selection made by the Award Committee, guided by Shiela Bauer, selected Jim and Angela based on their personal commitment and lifelong contributions to aerospace education.
The National Coalition of Aviation and Space Education congratulates the Thompson’s as outstanding recipients for the prestigious Mervin K.Strickler Award. The award will be presented at the Fall Awards Program of the National Aeronautics Association in Washington D.C.
DALLAS ISD PARTNERS WITH BLUE SKY EDUCATIONAL FOUNDATION AND FRONTIERS OF FLIGHT MUSEUM TO INTEGRATE SCIENCE OF FLIGHT INTO STEM CURRICULUM
Dallas philanthropist Jim Thompson announce $1 million contribution to launch Blue Sky Educational Foundation to inspire students to pursue STEM careers.
DALLAS – Dec. 30, 2013 – The Dallas Independent School District (Dallas ISD) has partnered with Blue Sky Educational Foundation and Frontiers of Flight Museum to bring the Science of Flight curriculum to 14 elementary schools as part of the Science, Technology, Engineering, Math (STEM) education program. This rigorous STEM curriculum correlates with the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills for Science and the Dallas ISD Imagine 2020 initiative.
On January 6, teachers from 14 elementary schools in Dallas ISD will spend the day training for the Science of Flight curriculum at the Frontiers of Flight Museum near Dallas’ Love Field. The training will be conducted by an elementary classroom teacher who has taught STEM through aviation science for 12 years and administrator who holds a commercial pilot’s license.
“We appreciate the great support and enthusiasm provided by all connected with this STEM learning project,” said Dr. Lee J. Siudzinski, executive director of the Blue Sky Educational Foundation and retired school superintendent. “Dallas ISD and Blue Sky Educational Foundation believe this innovative aviation curriculum will engage students and teachers and bring classrooms alive with student learning.”
“We’re thrilled to have the opportunity to bring this curriculum to upper elementary students throughout Dallas ISD,” said Superintendent Mike Miles. “Engaging our younger students in aviation through STEM will spark a natural excitement and curiosity about flight that could continue throughout their school career and beyond into adulthood.”
“This official Dallas launch of Blue Sky Educational Foundation is an outgrowth of our vision to use aviation experiences to inspire young people to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering and math,” noted Jim Thompson, business executive and philanthropist. “I’m delighted to introduce this curriculum to my hometown Dallas ISD and look forward to extending the program to many more school districts across the country.”
In addition to hands on training of the curriculum, each teacher will be given a kit that contains all the materials they will need to teach Science of Flight. Valued at $1,000 each, every kit contains materials for each student including stop watches, balsa planes, foam rockets, books on Texas birds, tape measurers, safety goggles, demonstration materials, laminated cards and several aviation books.
The Blue Sky Educational Foundation paid for the professional development of the aviation curriculum and will provide teacher and school support on an ongoing basis. Student learning successes of this project will be closely monitored and evaluated.
All 30 classrooms participating in this learning experience will be provided a learning field trip to the Frontiers of Flight Museum following the completion of this STEM learning through aviation. A museum visit and additional activities will also be planned for the families of participating students as another means of spreading interest in STEM studies and careers. All fees and bus transportation costs will be assumed by the Blue Sky Educational Foundation.
“We’re pleased to share our enthusiasm for aviation with a whole new group of teachers and youngsters,” said Cheryl Sutterfield-Jones, president and CEO of Frontiers of Flight Museum. “The Museum’s mission is to educate, motivate and inspire, and with our involvement in the Science of Flight program we can do just that for the students of Dallas ISD.”
Extended optional learning experiences will include free opportunities for participating Dallas ISD students, teachers and administrators to take individual flights in small airplanes through the Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA) Young Eagles Program. These opportunities are parent-or teacher-directed and will not be administered through or with Dallas ISD.
About Blue Sky Educational Foundation
The Blue Sky Educational Foundation was founded by Jim and Angela Thompson to inspire young people toward careers in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) by providing them opportunities to experience aviation excitement first-hand. By partnering with like-minded individuals and organizations, Blue Sky offers scholarship opportunities to students who would otherwise be unable to attend aviation-focused camps and receive STEM education. Blue Sky also promotes STEM education in schools through the Aim Higher program. Visit the Blue Sky Educational Foundation at www.blueskyfoundation.org.
About Jim Thompson
Jim Thompson is the long time President and CEO of ORIX USA Corporation and a past President and Founding Director of the ORIX Foundation. Mr. Thompson recently announced plans to leave ORIX and launch a new company, Preston Hollow Capital. Thompson is the President of the Jim Thompson Foundation, an organization that supports Dallas-based community service non-profits. The Jim Thompson Foundation is currently under construction.
About Dallas ISD
The Dallas Independent School District is the 14th largest school district in the country serving more than 157,000 students. Through the district’s Destination 2020 initiative, Dallas ISD seeks to improve student achievement by providing an effective teacher in every classroom, making effective principals key levers to improving schools, creating an efficient central office, expanding leadership density and engaging the community and parents.
About The Frontiers of Flight Museum
The Frontiers of Flight Museum, a Smithsonian Institution Affiliate, is a gem in our North Texas community that attracts over 100,000 visitors annually including 30,000 students. The Museum is a learning laboratory using aviation and space flight to encourage and promote student excellence in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). Educational classes for all ages are offered throughout the year, designed to excite the imagination in STEM through spacecraft design, aerodynamics, model-building, space science and other disciplines.