I have a son who loves airplanes and he was incredibly happy when we received a six month subscription to a course on aviation education with Doctor Aviation to review. He says it’s important to him because he wants to be an astronaut in the future so he needs to know about aviation.
This was not a course like Tristan (9) has taken before, and we knew it would be a big surprise for him so Phil and I kept it quiet until it was official that he was on the course. Every now and again us parents have to surprise our children with something special, don’t we?
Each year in September Phil and our children go to the Portrush Airshow which is one of the highlights of their year. Back before I came to the UK, Phil had taken a few flying lessons; now that he knows that angle, he needs to know the technical aspects of flying a plane. Now they have the opportunity to learn more about the craft they see and what goes into being able to fly them.
Doctor Aviation Education Plan
Doctor Aviation is a 15 lesson online course that you have 26 weeks to complete. It is mainly geared towards high school students and interested adults. Phil took it mainly along with our son, Tristan (9), and my 7-year-old daughter went between sitting and watching actively and playing quietly elsewhere but still keeping an ear on what Doctor Aviation was teaching.
The lessons consist of online videos that lasts approximately an hour each, but broken down into smaller sections to make it easier to watch over a couple of days. Along with the lessons there are questions to print out in PDF format (about 5-11 pages for each lesson) that are mainly fill in the blank. There are also additional resources provided for each lesson; such resources are websites, YouTube videos, books, and a list of topics to research further within the videos or on your own (many of these could be turned into essays of various lengths for older students).
If you child is in high school and completes most of the additional work, they may qualify for a half credit; go further in depth and a full credit could be achieved. Phil and Tristan didn’t go that deep, but they did watch many of the extra videos and read website articles together. One word of advice is that if you do have younger children, you may want to pre-screen some of the resources as a couple of the videos and movies, although true to the time and place, do use language that we don’t speak here at home so we explained this to our children.
Daryl is Doctor Aviation and has been in the US Air Force for almost a quarter of a century, including time as an instructor pilot and research pilot, and is currently a college professor. Daryl’s teaching style is done in the manner of a college lecture, which is a style that younger children may not be accustomed to. However, it’s clear that Daryl is passionate about aviation and wants to share his knowledge with others. We’re open to all ways of teaching and often my children appreciate being treated as adults without all the bells and whistles. I know my son is really impressed that he is able to take a class that students twice his age are also taking!
The main topics of the lessons are:
The Aviation System:
- The Aircraft
- The Major Components of an Airplane
- Axes and Forces
- Why an Aircraft Flies: The Secret of Airfoils and Lift
- Why an Aircraft Turns, Pitches and Slides: The Flight Controls
Air Traffic Control:
- How We See an Aircraft Miles Away: The Secrets of Radar
- The Air Traffic Cops: How Air Traffic Control Works
- Keep ‘Em Flying: Aircraft Maintenance – Propeller Engines
- Keep ‘Em Flying: Aircraft Maintenance – Jet Engines
- The City in and of Itself: Running a Large Airport
- The Small Airport and Running an FBO
- Flying in the Clear and Not so Clear Air: VMC and IMC
- Important Pilot Instruments – Attitude Indicator
- Important Pilot Instruments – Airspeed Indicator
- Other Aviation Ships: Gliders, Helicopters, Airships
In addition to simple aviation, the student will also learn about important figures and events in aviation history.
How Are The Lessons Going?
Tristan has been able to work in some other areas into this course to make it more fun for his age. Making origami airplanes is one way; and our kits are great as they also give more information on how they work; which ones go furthest or highest. And of course, Harry Ferguson was the first to build and pilot a plane in Northern Ireland so we’ll be expanding some local history in this area as well.
You never know when the knowledge learned in this course will come up in conversation. Just this past weekend my children saw a plane flying overhead and were discussing what the proper name for the wing flaps were called; there was much discussion as no one could recall…so it was agreed that both Phil and Tristan would have to return to their study notes when we returned home to find out.
To find out if the information learned is retained you can email Daryl and he will send you PDF exams and answer keys. The first one covers lessons 1-5 and is 10 pages long and worth 100 points. The questions are mainly multiple choice, as well as fill-in-the-blanks and short answer. As I sit here and type, my ‘boys’ are reviewing the materials to complete the test before moving on to lesson 7 (someone forgot to tell me they were ready for an exam so I didn’t email Daryl in time…).
As extra motivation, not that Tristan needs it as he has actually been in tears on days when life was too busy for him to have a lesson with Phil and Doctor Aviation, I am hoping to arrange for Tristan to interview a pilot when he has completed this course. I just happen to know an aerial photograph pilot and they’d get along great as they have a few similar interests.
Tristan says it best:
Tristan is loving this course for a couple of reasons. He wants to learn more about aviation, of course, but he is also really enjoying spending time learning with his dad. Usually it’s me that is involved with his education, but it’s special to him that his dad is learning alongside him. My children really do learn better when we participate with them and show them that learning is for life and you’re never too young or too old to learn about what interests you!
Tristan says that “it’s good that he gives you extra resources to find out more about it.” I also think this makes the process more meaningful as my family can pick and choose to learn more about the aspects that interest them and go off on tangents. That’s one thing about homeschooling, or learning from home; you don’t have to be rigid, if you’re learning something new and worthwhile, it doesn’t always have to follow a straight line.
Tristan is going to keep Phil going with their aviation education…and I’ve just found out about an open house this weekend at a flight club; we may just have to do a field trip!
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