It’s a ‘G’ Thing: STEM program teaches kids to fly planes through pilot simulation

Posted at 5:57 PM, Dec 14, 2016
and last updated 2016-12-14 17:58:29-05

“It’s really hands on” Michelangelo described. “I think it’s a very unique experience!”

Middle school minds are taking flight inside IS 187 (The Christa McAuliffe School) in Brooklyn.

“If I went to any other school I wouldn’t have these opportunities to do what I’m doing right now,” he added.

8th grader Michelangelo and his classmates are doing what some people only dream of, learning how to fly a plane.

“It feels really nice when you get to a milestone,” Daniel smiled.

“I like it and I think it’s different from any other type of simulators,” Earta said.

The one-of-a-kind experience is part of the program, STEMPilot.

“We build self esteem by teaching kids how to accomplish difficult and complex tasks by showing them how to apply and do things and moving away from the concept of memorizing and regurgitating facts," Jay Leboff explained.

Jay Leboff created the curriculum after years of working as an engineer and businessman. He’s been spreading it to schools across the country.

“One of my own personal goals is to advance more young women into math, science and engineering careers," he said. "If you want to be successful at doing that you better start in the elementary and middle schools."

STEMPilot combines math, physics, typography, meteorology and problem solving--- even if the kids just think they’re only having fun.

“This is the kind of learning that’s going to be lasting,” Justin Berman, principal, said. "We want the children to be able to apply that process to a whole range of different situations and different conditions.”

The students can customize everything from the airport, weather and type of aircraft. And after their teacher, Steven Dimino, shows them the basics, they get the chance to take off, to crash and to, ultimately, soar.

“It’s the joy of watching the children progress," Dimino smiled. "It’s watching their skills improve and when I see that and them wanting to do it on their own, my job is done.”

The goal isn’t to produce pilots, while that has happened, it’s about cultivating qualities and fostering a bright future.

“Attitude determines altitude," Leboff said.

Produced by: Kim Pestalozzi