The Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum is closing out another successful “S.H.E. Can” STEAM Aviation Camp in Springdale, Arkansas. The two-week camp in northwest Arkansas will culminate with a graduation ceremony on June 28 with participation from the U.S. Air Force and a special appearance by Col. Angela Ochoa, 19th Airlift Wing and Installation Commander of Little Rock Air Force Base.
Ochoa will be flying in on a C-130J Super Hercules with a nearly all-female flight crew. Campers will meet with the flight crew and tour the C-130J before returning to Har-Ber High School for the closing ceremony where Ochoa will be the keynote speaker.
“We are so pleased that we have been able to work with young women in Arkansas and share with them the opportunities available in all areas of aviation,” said Barb Gruber, assistant director for education at the National Air and Space Museum. “This graduation ceremony is another special opportunity for them to draw inspiration from successful women in the field. We are grateful that Col. Ochoa and Airmen from Little Rock Air Force Base were able to participate.”
The museum’s “S.H.E. Can” Aviation Camp is designed for students with an interest in aviation and seeks to empower young women to succeed in STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art, and mathematics) disciplines. Open to sixth- through eighth-grade students, this free, female-centered, aviation-focused experience provides access to low-income students in northwest Arkansas thanks to a grant from Steuart Walton, through the Walton Family Foundation. The camp held in Springdale is an expansion of the museum’s popular “S.H.E. Can” Aviation Camp based at the museum’s Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly, Virginia.
Like the two-week camp in Chantilly, the students in Springdale took part in a number of aviation activities, including daily STEAM-focused design challenges, flight training on simulators, and two discovery flights with an instructor, tracking progress, and building confidence through personalized flight-log books.
The activities unique to the camp in northwest Arkansas included a behind-the-scenes tour of the Northwest Arkansas National airport, visits to Walmart Aviation and Game Composites (an aircraft manufacturer), and an inquiry activity that illustrated the tangible connections between art and science at the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, a design challenge at the maker space in the Scott Family Amazeum and an outdoor adventure excursion that showed how flying can take the campers off the beaten path. They met women working in a variety of aviation fields, such as air traffic control, maintenance, and commercial aviation.
To learn more about the “S.H.E. Can” summer camp, visit the museum’s website.