The students at the Academy of Aerospace and Engineering at John Wallace Middle School gave orientation tours to the Wallace 6th grade science classes on December 22nd and 23rd, the last two days of school prior to the winter break. While many students prior to the break are just putting in time, watching videos in class or doing some other light work, these students prepared and gave four 50-minute tours per day, plus completed two service projects during their after school periods. Right to the end, they performed professionally and with excellence. This performance showed me that these students have taken ownership of the academy, and they are proud to show it to others. For any school program, this is a valid indicator of success.
The purpose for giving tours to the 6th graders is that these younger students will be applying in a couple months for the twenty-five 7th grade positions in next year’s academy class. (For questions about the application process, contact Ms. Kim Davis, Director of Extended Learning at Newington Public Schools.) The 6th grade science teachers and I collaborated on a suitable schedule where each of their classes could visit the academy and benefit from science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) activities. I gave my students a class period to plan the schedule and the activities. After I gave them an initial proposal, they discussed it, modified it, and rehearsed what they would do and say. The overall plan was that one or more academy students would accompany each group of three to four 6th graders on a tour of all of our facilities, then show the 6th graders the basics of flight on the flight simulators. I talked to the 6th graders less than five minutes on each tour–the rest of the time, the academy students did the talking. They gave the tours without any sort of script, and they did an outstanding job in guiding the 6th graders around and in presenting the academy’s academic and other activities. The following photos are from the two days of tours.