Arnold ups educational outreach

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Local students got a taste of the type of work conducted at AEDC as they either invited AEDC employees for activities at their schools or visited the center to get a first-hand look at facilities.

Several of Arnold's military personnel took part in New Union Elementary's Read Across America program. Read Across America is an annual reading motivation and awareness program that calls for every child in every community to celebrate reading on March 2, the birthday of children's author Dr. Suess.

"One little girl handed me a valentine on which she had written 'thank you,'" said Lt. Col. James Colebank, commander of the 718th Test Squadron. "It spoke volumes to me. The kids really enjoyed seeing military personnel and they had a had a chance to hear Dr. Seuss books, ask questions about military life, learn how airplanes fly and, of course, learn about satellites and how rocket engines work."

As a part of Tennessee Space Week, Bel-Aire Elementary invited Capt. Catercia Isaac, flight commander of the 718th Test Squadron's Space Ground Test Operations, to be the keynote speaker for the conclusion of their Tennessee Space Week activities.

Capt. Isaac put together a presentation about space for more than 500 students ranging from kindergarten to fifth grade. She included the history of the manned space program, showed them clips of the moon landing and the first shuttle launch.

She also talked about what future shuttles would possibly look like and the possibilities and opportunities the Air Force has.

"It was a thrill and an honor to be able to talk to the next generation and be able to inspire them," she said.

A couple of weeks later, more than 50 third graders from Bel-Aire came to the center to learn more the kind of work done daily at AEDC.

"The Bel-Aire third graders were incredibly excited to be here," said Lt. Col. Vanessa Bond, commander of the 716th Test Squadron, who welcomed the group to AEDC. "They asked pointed, informed questions and were so well disciplined. There were so many good questions, that we ran out of time to field them all. I was especially encouraged with all the little girls with questions. I usually have to draw them out when I speak to a mixed class, but not this group. I was inspired by the children's hope for the future. Personally, they really made my day."

As part of their AEDC experience, the students conducted an experiment designed to show how drag can affect an object in motion. The students attached a balloon to a straw, which was attached to a string.

In the first part of the experiment, the balloon was attached to the straw and was released and the distance traveled was measured. In the second part of the experiment, a cardboard representation of landing gear was attached to the bottom of the balloon. The balloon was released and the distance was measured.

After the experiments, the students discussed how different features of an aircraft, like wings and landing gear, can affect the way a plane flies.

The students also toured the Propulsion Wind Tunnel and the 16-foot supersonic wind tunnel and learned about projectiles, such as missile models, and impact testing in the G-Range.

David Woods, an ATA project engineer who talked to the third graders about the impact ranges, said that he was was happy to help with the Bel Aire Elementary third grade tour.
"They were interested and excited to ask questions," he said. "Providing educational opportunities like this is important to me because I feel that it can encourage more students to enter into the scientific and engineering technical fields."

Teachers interested in bringing their class to AEDC for a tour should contact the ATA Public Affairs office at 454-5655. Teachers interested in having someone talk to students at school should contact the Air Force Public Affairs office at 454-4204.