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The Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum will expand its popular “S.H.E. Can” STEM summer camp to Bentonville, Arkansas, beginning in July 2020. Building on the success of the camp over the past two summers at the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly, Virginia, the museum will pilot the two-week summer camp in northwest Arkansas over the next three years. The camp is designed for students with an interest in aviation and seeks to empower young women to succeed in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) disciplines. Open to sixth- through eighth-grade students, this free, female-centered, aviation-focused experience will provide access to low-income students in northwest Arkansas thanks to a grant from the Walton Family Foundation at the recommendation of Steuart Walton.
“Our goal has always been to expand this camp across the country to reach more young women and share with them the opportunities available in all areas of aviation,” said Ellen Stofan, the John and Adrienne Mars Director of the museum. “We’re very grateful to the Walton Family Foundation for the opportunity to inspire more girls to pursue a variety of STEM career, including aviation.”
The aviation resources located in northwest Arkansas make it an ideal location to pilot the expansion of the program. The Bentonville Municipal Airport is home to a 22,000-square-foot aviation hub, Thaden Fieldhouse, named after pioneer aviatrix Louise Thaden, a flight school, FAA flight-testing center and numerous unique aviation experiences. Like the two-week camp in Chantilly, the students that will participate in the “S.H.E. Can” camp in Bentonville will take part in a number of aviation activities, including daily STEM-focused design challenges, flight training on simulators and two discovery flights with an instructor, tracking progress and building confidence through personalized flight-log books.
The activities unique to northwest Arkansas will include a behind-the-scenes tour of the Bentonville Municipal airport, a visit to the FAA in Fort Smith Regional Airport, an inquiry activity that illustrates the tangible connections between art and science at the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, a design challenge at the maker space in the Scott Family Amazeum and an outdoor adventure excursion that will show how flying can take them off the beaten path. They will also meet women working in a variety of aviation fields, such as air traffic control, cyber security and commercial aviation.
To learn more about the “S.H.E. Can” summer camp, visit the museum’s website at https://airandspace.si.edu/shecan.
The National Air and Space Museum is on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., at 655 Jefferson Dr. S.W. The museum’s Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center is located in Chantilly, Virginia, near Washington Dulles International Airport. Regular daily hours for both facilities are from 10 a.m. until 5:30 p.m. (closed Dec. 25).
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