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STEM outreach flyover gets kids excited for Aerospace Valley Air Show

  • Published
  • By 1st Lt. Christine Del Aguila
  • 412th Test Wing Public Affairs

In preparation for the 2022 Aerospace Valley Air Show, Open House and Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) Expo, the 412 TW Operations Group hosted a STEM outreach flyover for 50 surrounding schools on Oct 12.

The flyover included a C-17, F-35, T-38, and NASA F-18 that flew over a route spanning 250 miles, 14 different communities and reached over 40,000 students.

“As a local, I'm passionate about reaching out to our community. The early exposure I got to engineering in middle school and high school still influences my career today,” said Jessica (Ulvin) Peterson, a Quartz Hill Elementary, Joe Walker Middle School and Quartz Hill High School Alumni.

Jessica Peterson, the 412th Operations Group Technical Director and civilian flight test engineer who facilitated the flyover, engaged with over 6 local schools prior to the flyover with a STEM presentation.

“Leading up to the event I reached out to schools to provide in-person presentations on Flight Test and Engineering. The goal was to connect students to the airplanes and aircrew they saw at the STEM outreach flyover and airshow,” said Peterson.

The flyover route reached the California communities of Edwards, Boron, Helendale, Victorville, Hesperia, El Mirage, Lake Los Angeles, Palmdale, Quartz Hill, Lancaster, Rosamond, Tehachapi, Mojave and California City with dedicated points at schools ranging from kindergarten to college.

This was the first time an Air Force base conducted a flyover of this purpose and scope.

“In order to ‘Break Tomorrow's Barriers Today’, the theme of the AV Airshow, we need the next generation of scientists, engineers, pilots, and manufacturers excited and ready to take on the challenge. My intent was to encourage STEM education and awareness of STEM careers,” said Peterson.

Peterson worked with the EAFB public affairs to create recorded content on the base website that featured an interactive STEM toolkit for students to view prior to the flyover.

“I wanted to be able to speak at all 50 plus schools, but since that wasn’t feasible we created a page and recorded content to reach all the schools participating in the STEM outreach flyover,” said Peterson.

The website features videos of several of the men and women of the EAFB Test mission, to teach students how they use STEM in their careers and how they ended up in the Aerospace Valley.

The website also includes videos aimed at elementary, middle, and high school levels explaining flight test engineering, STEM opportunities, Automatic Collision Avoidance Technology flight test, and the 75th anniversary of Supersonic Flight with Edwards AFB's unique role in the breaking of the sound barrier in 1945.

The website Peterson created for the STEM School outreach can be found at https://www.edwards.af.mil/Education/STEM/2022-Aerospace-Valley-School-Flyover/

"I'm so deeply humbled by the inspirational investment I witnessed by all the key players and volunteers that made the last 6 days happen; an investment that clearly resonated with kids ages 3 to 13, for they are the STEM future of our Nation,” said Brig. Gen. Matthew Higer, Commander, 412th Test Wing.