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Free summer program at Hill AFB museum aims to keep Utah kids sharp on STEM

Wednesday , June 06, 2018 - 5:15 AM

HILL AIR FORCE BASE — A new program at the Hill Aerospace Museum aims to keep kids sharp on STEM throughout the academically barren summer months.

This week, the museum began its STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) Summer Passport program — a 12-week crash course in subjects like electricity, chemistry, astronomy, weather, magnetics, flight and more.

The class is held twice daily, at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m., Tuesday through Friday and every other Saturday at the museum’s Marc C. Reynolds Aerospace Center for Education. The program is free and open to kids at least 8 years old, on a first-come, first-served basis. A helicopter building class is held at the same times for children younger than 7 and under.

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As part of the program, students are issued a “Museum STEM Passport” that gets stamped after each class they attend. Students who attend all 10 classes will receive a special pin and certificate from the museum’s Flight Line Gift Shop.

Instruction is led by the museum’s entertaining and enthusiastic education director, Mark Standing. Standing taught for 36 years in the Weber School District and also served as a teacher mentor, working to slow the district’s turnover rate.

Robb Alexander, executive director of the Aerospace Heritage Foundation of Utah, knew Standing from when he taught his kids at Uintah Elementary School.

“We wanted someone who could really reach the kids,” Alexander said. “I would always say, ‘We need somebody like Mark Standing.’ Then we actually were able to get Mark Standing, so it was great. He was born to teach.”

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On Tuesday, Standing and four student-teachers taught a class of about 30 children an interactive lesson on electricity. The session included a taser, lightsabers and a video snippet of the 1989 Paula Abdul hit, “Opposites Attract.” The children in attendance were thoroughly entertained — and educated.

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“It was really fun,” said 11-year-old Hill Air Force Base resident Jackie Heimbecker. “I’ve been really interested (in STEM) for a while. I like to take notes in class and pay attention and if I have a question I ask my teacher. And if I need more information, I look it up on the internet and read books from the library. That’s pretty much what I do.”

Heimbecker’s mother, Rocio Heimbecker, said the classes are a good way for her daughter to stay engaged in STEM while school is out.

Standing said everything he teaches in the class is in line with Utah Core standards.

For more information on the program, call the Hill Aerospace Museum at 801-825-5817 or visit aerospaceutah.com/stem-summer. Hill gate passes are not required to visit the museum, which can be accessed by heading east off of Exit 338 on Interstate 15 in Roy. 

The museum is open Monday through Saturday from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. 

You can reach reporter Mitch Shaw at mishaw@standard.net. Follow him on Twitter at @mitchshaw23 or like him on Facebook.

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