Black Pilot to Create Classroom in the Sky
Barrington Irving was the youngest and the first black pilot to fly solo around the globe.
The interesting thing is, most inner-city neighborhoods are close to an airport -- since no one wants to live close to an airport -- and there are so many careers available within the industry.
TR: Why is your program so important? Are these subjects not presented to kids in school in a way that's compelling to them?
BI: They're not. Math and science are subjects which, for the average American student -- and especially minority students and students from low-income areas -- are not as appealing because half the schools don't have the resources to make them interesting or fun.
I think the biggest gap we have is that the average student cannot relate math or science to a particular career, to what they have to do with real life. That's the purpose of the hands-on projects -- to allow for creating excitement around math and science and show that they are relevant. Once they get connected, they're actually interested in pursuing these careers.
TR: What's next for you?
BI: My next big project is transforming a light jet -- an Embraer Phenom 100 -- into the world's first flying classroom, which I'll use to teach kids from 41,000 feet in the air. Kids will log in online as I fly to different destinations around the world, to all seven continents. I'll be able to teach them in the air and also teach them when I land. The lessons will highlight different careers and advances in technology.
To give you an example, I will fly to Tanzania. I'll go on a safari and [learn hands-on about the requirements of a veterinary career], and after that kids will have their own opportunity online. It's going to be major. A number of educators have told me this is really going to impact the way kids interact with math and science.
TR: Three pieces of advice to parents about helping kids fulfill their potential?
BI: Expose your kid to anything because you never know what they'll gravitate toward.
Don't be afraid to let your kid fall flat on their face.
Pay attention to how your child learns. Every kid learns differently.
Barrington Irving is on Facebook.
Jenée Desmond-Harris is a contributing editor at The Root.
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