Flying High for STEM Learning with the Blue Angels

What does the U.S. Navy’s flight demonstration squadron, the Blue Angels have in common with the movement surrounding education technology? The comparison certainly isn’t immediately apparent, is it? UC Berkeley Professor of Astronomy Alex Filippenko was invited to fly in a Blue Angels F/A-18 Hornet during San Francisco’s Fleet Week 2012 to answer this question.

Fleet Week is the Navy’s yearly mission to focus on humanitarian assistance and disaster response preparedness. The Navy takes the opportunity to spread the message about a variety of values like education, training, responsibility and patriotism. They invited Professor Filippenko to serve as an ambassador to remind participants of the importance of advanced technical learning in math, science and engineering.

As Professor Filippenko says: “We need people trained in these fields. We need to keep the U.S. strong in science, technology, leadership, innovation, teamwork, creativity and individual pursuit of these high ideals.”

So you could say the Navy is a big advocate of STEM learning. I have an older brother who has flown F/A-18F Hornets for the last few years, and before he could ever take a seat in the cockpit of such an advanced aircraft, he had to study advanced fields of aerodynamics and engineering. Now the man makes an outstanding living doing what he loves. Which is to say the Navy pays him a ridiculous amount of money to fly a fighter jet faster than the speed of sound. How’d he get there? Several ways, but STEM learning was certainly one of them.

“Hopefully my flight will inspire kids and others to go into these technical fields, learn a large amount of math and science and really contribute to the future and greatness of this nation.”

Check out Profesor Filippenko’s YouTube channel for more STEM goodness and footage from more of his Fleet Week activities.