Kids Can Learn to Love Science, Tech, Engineering, and Math. Here’s How.

Here are a few ways that Austin's aviation academy engages students in STEM.

Phoenix Arising Aviation Academy is an Austin-based nonprofit that helps students excel in science and math. CEO and Executive Director Zaitarrio Collier founded Phoenix Arising in 2008 with his wife Tasha, who is COO and director of operations. They teach kids through hands-on aviation and technology experiences. 

Part of the Phoenix Arising mission is to “to directly intervene in the STEM [science, technology, engineering, and mathematics] pipeline, and really cultivate inclusion and engagement in STEM with young people,” said the CEO.

Phoenix Arising especially tries to reach economically disadvantaged youth. Here are a few ways that the academy engages students in STEM:

Empowering identity
The Phoenix programs focus on each student’s assets, showing that instructors believe in student abilities and building strong relationships between students and teachers. The learning environment is encouraging and engaging. This additive model of teaching supports student developing their own identities, which can be technologically and socio-economically empowered.

Cultivating confidence
Phoenix makes the subject matter engaging and engagement helps students understand and apply what they’re learning. Recognizing student achievement increases confidence and encourages further learning.

The question many people ask about math and science is: When am I ever going to use this?

Showing benefits
The question many people ask about math and science is: When am I ever going to use this? Phoenix answers that question by using real-life situations to teach every math and science class. Students develop their problem-solving skills by applying what they learn to real world situations, including aviation.

Exploring STEM careers 
Phoenix models what engagement and diversity in STEM look like. The volunteers, instructors, and founders have careers in STEM. Through them, the students get to see what they can achieve in technology and what their own career path could look like.

Encouraging personal growth
Phoenix doesn’t depend on worksheets and isolated lab experiments, preferring to stimulate students in multi-modal fashion. Classes are hands on, which connects to the real world component and allows students to bring all of their experiences into the learning environment.

For more information about Phoenix Arising programs, or to buy tickets to their Nov. 3 gala, visit their website.


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