Among the first things you see when entering the facility are full-motion flight simulators, model airplanes, rows of computers and creative lab areas directly in the middle of the lobby.
To a child, this place could easily be compared to Disney Land! Unlike a theme park, however, Founders Zay and Tasha Collier have created an inventive environment where through aviation, youths can have fun while learning the importance of team building and STEM education.
“My husband [Zay] is an aviation enthusiast. He’s very passionate about aviation & education,” said Tasha, Co-founder & Director of Operations. The academy was established in 2008 with the mission of creating an exciting way to show kids a new side of STEM concepts through experience and exploration. STEM is an acronym for Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics. As important as it is to learn these subjects, traditional learning tools may not be engaging enough for the modern youth.
“The most important thing we do is build relationships. We connect with the students. After we do this, the concepts easily sink in”, says Collier, as she explains the brilliance of building a genuine, trust worthy relationship with their students. Finding innovative ways to connect with the new age child is pivotal to their success. “The kids think it’s a game. But in the interim of having fun, they learn flight simulation, speed measurement, programming, coding, velocity, weather, graphic design, lift and drag, engineering, entrepreneurship, planes & parachute construction and the science behind flight.”
“this is NOT about aviation, it’s about broadening your perspective.”
To the disadvantaged child, the facility offers more than just a fun place to learn. In addition, it provides stability, safety and access to a world they don’t often get to experience in their daily existence. Parents are at work making ends meet, while children are left to fend for themselves, which is an easy recipe for trouble. .
“Statistics show that between the hours of 3pm-6pm, crime increases. Students are bored after school or are in unsafe environments”, explains Collier. Phoenix Arising Aviation Academy has stepped in to help fill that void. One of the unique aspects of the Phoenix Aviation curriculum is that children from disadvantaged households work side-by-side with their peers who may come from more privileged backgrounds.
Tasha Collier says it best when stating “this is NOT about aviation, it’s about broadening your perspective.”
The future is looking extremely bright for Phoenix Arising and the aviation industry at large. Zay explains that, “through technology, there has been a dramatic transformation in safety and effectiveness.” He further states the “increased use of light business jets is making travel more flexible in business transportation”.
On Wednesday, November 5, the academy will be hosting BUILD2014, their annual charity gala that serves as a celebration, further awareness of their mission – and of course – help to raise funds to cover operating expenses.
The academy has come a long way in their first 6 years, but there is still more work to do. To grow and expand the mission, your help is greatly needed. ‘There are many different ways to get involved”, Tasha explains. Areas needed, include but are not limited to classroom volunteers & mentors, advocates and public ambassadors, marketing experts, sponsorship engagers and individual donors.