Best Practices and Guidelines
When creating educational activities, stations and/or programs, be sure they are:
Hands on and engaging
Learners should be able to DO an activity that has a purpose they understand before they begin
EXAMPLE: Making a glider and testing how far it goes
Building a model plane and learning about its purpose in WWII
Mapping a flight plan using math skills and tools
Researching the WASPs and creating a goal based on their characteristics and tracking progress
Show growth in knowledge
Learners should show a growth in knowledge from the beginning of the activity to the end of the activity. This is a sustainable outcome and creates lasting change.
EXAMPLE: Learners are asked what they know about a certain model of a plane before they begin building it. As they build the model, they learn the different parts. When finished, the learners can explain about the different parts of the model.
Learners are asked to share what they know about WASPs before an activity. Leaners engage in the learning activity. Learners are able to clearly articulate the significance of the WASPs in national history.
Well rounded lessons
To help foster the next generation of pilots, aerospace professionals, engineers and leaders, all education programming should contain components of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM), coupled with history to inform and inspire.
Other considerations when planning educational activities/events:
WHO: Who is your audience and what is their age?
OUTCOME: What will the participants learn from the experience?
MISSION RELATED: How will the program help fulfill the CAF mission to Educate. Inspire. Honor.?
RESOURCES: What resources are available for your use, materials, money, time, volunteers, space, etc?
STRUCTURE: Will there be several stations, a schedule, a come and go day? One day of activities, a week of "camp", a few hours?
Our commitment to restoring and flying airplanes has been anchored by the idea that the public will learn more from experiencing the visceral, multi-sensory version of the aircraft than from the sterile version housed in a conventional museum. Because many CAF units have airplanes and artifacts, we are already in the business of hands-on fun. This kind of experiential learning promotes deeper engagement with our communities and is at the core of the CAF Education model.
Don’t forget the VALUES
Deeply rooted in sharing our American values, the CAF has made it a priority to honor the Greatest Generation and their contributions that allowed America to win the War. By remembering to address the concepts of perseverance, courage, dedication and collaboration, we are helping to pass along the values we feel are an inalienable part of being an American and emphasize that this greatness lives within each and every one of us. It also fosters respect for our veterans and country, something that is near and dear to the hearts of our members.
CAF Education programs are not just about advancing aviation specific skills, and are not just for the children who want to be pilots. Our emphasis on the values which won the War can serve to “light the spark” for young people who dream of pursuing a wide range of careers, or who have a wide range of interests.
CAF’s approach focuses not on battles and combat, but rather on the people affected by the War and their relatable, human experience, addressing the broad social history of World War II. Our programs should also strive to position the War in the minds of young people as the birth of the modern age, creating a new world not just in the geopolitical sense, but also in terms science and technology, bringing us many breakthroughs that range from the abstract to the everyday. Things that young people have readily access to today, like drones, have deep connections to World War II!
Harness the power of the CAF member
CAF members are the drivers of our success because of their interest and passion. Effective educational outreach programs should be enjoyable for our volunteers and give them a chance to be valued for the skills and enthusiasm they bring to the table. They are our greatest asset and are the conduit for outreach to our communities. Capitalize on it!
Pay attention to accessibility
Create the best environment for learners to engage with your program by ensuring the content is relevant, clear and relatable. Written material should be simple and easy to read, the program leaders should communicate clearly, and, most importantly, the learner should be able to relate the lessons to their own life.
Test and refine
Make sure to test out all aspects of your program with your team or with a test group before you offer it to the community. Avoid stress and frustration with a few trial runs to work out any issues and garner feedback to make it even better.
Scale and sustainability
Before you launch, have an honest look at the resources and obligations required to sustain a successful program. Make sure the demands on volunteers are reasonable, funding is in place (if necessary) and the entire unit understands the goals, objectives and benefits. Take a step back to address any potential issues before bringing the program to your community.
Learning is a continual process, even for us! We are learning right alongside those we are trying to reach with our educational message. What worked? What didn’t? Did attendees leave with what we wanted them to learn? What can we do to grow and do even better next time? How can I share this with my fellow CAF units? Self-evaluation is one of the best tools in your belt.
GUIDELINES FOR A SUCCESSFUL EDUCATION EVENT
“I never teach my pupils, I only attempt to provide the conditions in which they can learn.” ― Albert Einstein
The CAF Education Team believes that one does not need to be a teacher or have teaching experience to inspire and educate today’s generation of kids. You only need passion and a plan! Below is a guide to help you think through the things that will help you have a successful learning environment, regardless of the age of the kids or the activity, or your own teaching experience! Always remember, we are here at HQ to help and support. Never hesitate to reach out for advice, to run thoughts by us or to have a discussion!
Set a purpose and state it clearly for why Learners are there. Take away the unknown and let the learners know what you want them to do.
EXAMPLE: You are here today so we can learn about the different parts of the planes used in World War II.
Let’s go take a look at the parts of a plane, but please do not touch anything until I say so.
EXAMPLE: Today we will talk about how planes can fly. We are going to build a plane from different things today. You can pick and choose what you want to use, but think about what will be best to make the plane fly.
Cooperative learning is one of the best ways for learners to learn. To keep from things getting wild, divide the learners into groups by the number of jobs for a project or activity and then have learners assigned to or pick specific jobs.
EXAMPLE: You will work in teams of 3 and build a model plan today. Everyone will work together, but you need to decide specifically, who will get the supplies, who will draw the design plan and who will assemble the model.
EXAMPLE: You will work in partners to determine how to get a plane to land correctly on the runway. One of you should write and the other should work the plane, then you should switch so you each get a turn.
Be over prepared! Try to have everything ready before the learners arrive. Have everything accessible and set up for activities. Have refreshments ready if you are providing them. Have the things you are showing already out and on display. The less time learners have to wait on you, the more they will be focused and engaged.
Answer questions before they are asked.
Point out where the restrooms are
Will there be an official restroom break or can kids just go as needed?
How will you get their attention (Will you whistle, ring a bell, clap hands, etc.) and when you do this, they are supposed to do?(stop what they are doing, be quiet and listen?)
What can’t they touch? Where is it off limits to go in the hangar, building, etc.?
Can they ask questions any time or do they wait until the end?
Have FUN—your Unit is inspiring and educating the next generation about the Greatest Generation! Let the pride, passion, and love you have for the war birds and the war be honored in your voice, smile, and face!