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Sooner Flight Academy in Norman keeps kids coming back

Instructors say they do some learning of their own during the Sooner Flight Academy’s day camps for children in kindergarten through 12th grade. Some students first attend the Norman camp as 6-year-olds and continue every summer throughout their school years.
BY SARAH HUSSAIN, For The Oklahoman Modified: July 6, 2014 at 3:00 pm •  Published: July 6, 2014

The chance to mold the minds of children interested in aviation is what keeps Sam Jansen coming back to the Sooner Flight Academy.

The recent University of Oklahoma graduate and Sooner Flight Academy employee said instructors do some learning of their own during the academy’s day camps for children in kindergarten through 12th grade.

“There are some things that we don’t know,” Jansen said. “We learn them, then we can teach it to the kids. Just being able to teach them that and seeing how excited they get is really what gets us up in the morning.”

Jansen got involved with the academy by recruitment through OU’s Air Force ROTC during the spring of 2013 and worked a couple events at camp during spring break. “Then summer camp last year, stayed with them this year and here we are again,” he said.

Jansen graduated in May with a degree in aviation management, was commissioned through the ROTC program and will be attending Air Force training in Enid.

The OU Sooner Flight Academy is designed to inspire young people to become leaders in the aviation industry and in the fields of science, technology, engineering and math.

The academy’s summer and school year programs encourage inquiry and exploration with hands-on activities.

“The idea is, not that they understand integral calculus, but when they get to that calculus class, instead of saying, ‘When am I ever going to use this?’ they’ll say, ‘Oh, this is rocket science,’” said academy director Matt Esker.

Esker said each week at camp there are three different camp sessions going at the same time.

“They are all different age groups and they’re doing different activities that are appropriate to their developmental age.”

A GPS scavenger hunt was an activity Esker planned for one of the camps for 12-year-olds. One coordinate tracker, Nash Crouch, has attended the academy six years.

Physics is Crouch’s favorite part of aviation, and he said he has learned many things through the years from the phonetic alphabet and how planes fly, to learning how to help others.

“We went to the National Weather Center on campus and after that I kind of want to work there but I also want to fly.”

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