AAFB maintainers participate in first STEMtoSky event

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Miyah Gray
  • 97th Air Mobility Wing Public Affairs

Members from the 97th Maintenance Squadron participated in the Air Force’s first annual STEMtoSky event May 1, 2023, at Altus Air Force Base, Oklahoma.

STEMtoSky is a program designed to provide an opportunity for Airmen to engage with students from across the country via livestream video to teach science, technology, engineering and math aspects virtually through hands-on activities.

Michele Elliot, 97th MXS avionics technician, taught two sixth-grade classes from Hill Field Elementary School in Clearfield, Utah. Elliot’s classes focused on the concept of ‘lift’ by using hoop gliders, an alternative to traditional paper airplanes.

“The purpose of all this was to encourage the kids to learn more about STEM and to show different types of STEM opportunities that the Air Force has to offer,” she said. “Something as simple as paper and a straw can put into perspective the physics of the air resistance and thrust of an aircraft.”

While demonstrating the capabilities of the hoop glider, Elliot, along with Donald Obrieter, 97th Maintenance Squadron director and Amanda Olson, 97th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron KC-46 Pegasus crew chief, gave the students a tour of a KC-46 Pegasus and explained how air resistance provides lift for a plane, similar to the hoop gliders.

“We teach STEM to kids so they can see how their learning translates to the working world,” said Elliot. “The middle school age is a prime age to inspire kids to take the path towards STEM.”

Obrieter, explained the importance of introducing STEM to children and inspiring them to pursue STEM-related career fields.

“It’s important to make a connection with kids while they’re still growing, learning and deciding what it is they want to do,” he said. “We can expose them to all the different career paths STEM has to offer. We may be speaking to future pilots, loadmasters and Airmen.”