Model control tower opens in support of STEM careers

by Louise R. SHAW

SALT LAKE CITY—Kaysville fifth graders were introduced to new career options thanks to a kid-size control tower that opened with the help of Hill Air Force Base on Tuesday.

Besides jobs in banking, service, the media and entertainment, students visiting JA Town in Salt Lake City will now be able to learn a little something about working in an air traffic control tower or being a pilot.

“It’s an exciting career,” said Col. Aaron Blum, who represented Hill Air Force Base for the ribbon cutting ceremony at the interactive learning environment at the Gateway.

Blum encouraged the students to study STEM subjects – science, technology, engineering and math.

It was after earning a degree in physics that he became an airline pilot and later, a fighter pilot, he said.

Besides having an exciting career in the Air Force, he said, “you get to help protect the country.”

Snow Horse Elementary student Seth Rushton addressed students at a Town Hall meeting at JA Town, talking about his pretend role as an Air Force pilot.

“We are the world’s greatest Air Force,” he told students. “We do the impossible every day.”

Playing the role of Hill employee was meaningful to his friend, Skip Waugh, as well.

“It’s the same job my mother has,” he said. “She’s a computer scientist at Hill and it’s super exciting following in her footsteps.”

Maj. Shayne Carroll, an F-35A pilot at Hill, also represented the Air Force at the ribbon cutting.

“It’s great to share my perspective with students about how STEM plays a role not only in the Air Force but in our communities,” he said.

According to Alison Sturgeon, manager of the STEM outreach program at Hill, the base hires nearly 200 engineers and computer scientists each year.

“Getting students interested in STEM careers early is very important and we are excited to have this tower be a part of JA City.”

Becky Harding, vice president of communications and development for Junior Achievement, is excited to show kids more jobs available for their futures.

“We really want them to see STEM careers,” she said, “and Hill wants to see them seek those careers. They’re always hiring and looking for qualified applicants.”

The Junior Achievement program is a great chance for kids to learn about business costs and budgeting, check books and debit cards, being a CEO or being a sales manager, said Franki Galbraith, who teaches one of the fifth grade classes in attendance.

“It’s setting them up for real life situations,” said Galbraith. “It teaches financial literacy and helps prepare them for the future.”

Often kids are worn out after a day running the REAL soccer team or trying to sell Chik-fil-A trinkets or acting as the city mayor, said fellow teacher Karen Duke. “They’ll say, ‘No wonder my parents are tired at the end of the day,’” she said.

Tate had the role of CEO for REAL soccer. Dressed in team shirts, he and his fellow employees signed checks and tried to get support for the team from others in the city.

“You have to sign a lot of papers,” he said of the job. “And you have to apply for loans.”

Working for the Air Force would also be rewarding, he said. “You get to meet a lot of people and you get to help your country.”



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