CAF Focus on STEM

Commemorative Air Force Focus on STEM Education

The Commemorative Air Force (CAF) is the nation’s leading agency devoted to educating, inspiring, and honoring through flight. Our volunteer led programs support the organization in various ways, including restoring our aircraft to flying condition; piloting aircraft during air shows, veteran events and other educational opportunities; and supporting educational programming across the country. Today, our collection of vintage military aircraft, the largest in the world, impacts millions of Americans each year through school presentations, air shows, flight demonstrations, and living history events.

In recent years, we have broadened our educational focus to include Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) and aviation science programming. In 2018, the CAF launched summer camp programming in which students attended five-day camps themed around aviation technologies. These camps teach basic to advanced scientific principles of aviation using the context and necessity of aviation during World War II and its continued importance in the modern world.

In developing STEM programming, we realized that we had a unique opportunity to combine our historic aircraft and artifacts with modern STEM curriculum to create unique, out-of-the-box education opportunities. At its core, STEM education is designed to teach critical thinking skills and problem. Using historical examples from World War II, our curriculum illustrates how past problems have been solved by technology, and then uses these lessons to inspire application to today.

In an effort to further our educational programming offerings, we are building the National Aviation Education Center (NAEC) at our headquarters location in Dallas, Texas. This facility will use programming to teach students about aviation sciences and history to develop leadership skills and generate interest in aviation-related careers. The mission of the Center is to use lessons from World War II to impart STEM principles and leadership training to a new generation of aviation enthusiasts. Because of our national scope, programs developed at the NAEC will be deployed to our units across the country.

We are uniquely poised to offer effective STEM programs to area students because of the tools, volunteers, and aircraft readily available for curriculum use. We operate differently from other aviation organizations. Our airplanes are not kept behind glass. We believe in “dropping the rope” so that visitors can experience hands-on engagement with science and history. We also believe that airplanes can be tools for mentorship. Our educational programs use airplanes to aid in well-rounded student growth that include inspiration to overcome challenges that occur in each person’s life and real life examples of heroes in action.

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