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Oklahoma State University

Faculty Land Boeing Foundation Grant to Bring Aviation, STEM Curriculum to K-12 Schools

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Juliana Utley (mathematics education) and Steve Marks (aviation education), along with co-PIs Andy Arena and Jamey Jacob (aerospace engineering), have received a $71,000 grant from the Boeing Foundation to support their project “OSU Teachers that Dream, Design, Build, Learn about, and Teach Aviation”.

“Aerospace is a key and fast-growing industry in Oklahoma with more than 500 aerospace-related companies and 150,000 workers supported by the industry,” Marks said. “There is a disconnect in our state, however, because aerospace and aviation education is not a part of the state’s K-12 curriculum.” 

Utley and Marks plan to impact students by capitalizing on their natural interest in aviation and space during this important phase in their career development. The grant will support a five-phase program to give hands-on aerospace experience to teachers and undergraduate students, including participating in OSU Speedfest, a competition for high school students and college students to showcase aircraft design. Speedfest is sponsored by the College of Engineering Architecture and Technology (CEAT) and led by Arena. 

The project aims to motivate and prepare future STEM majors for the industry.

“Young students nearly all express an interest in space and flying. We want to encourage teachers to take advantage of the timing while giving them resources that bring home the strong STEM principles they are already seeking to instruct,” Utley said.

The Boeing funds will support the two-fold mission: providing aerospace/aviation education and career information to current and future K-12 educators, high school students and undergraduate students participating in Speedfest; and exposing 3rd-8th grade students to aerospace/aviation education and career information through in-class curriculum units. The program will provide leadership for current OSU aerospace engineering students and advance their soft skills for use in their professional careers.

“We are very grateful for Boeing’s support of STEM education in our state and for its commitment to improving the education of our young students who will someday be the leaders in this important industry,” Utley said.

Third through eighth grade teachers interested in this opportunity can find more information on the Center for Research on STEM Teaching and Learning’s website (