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Students Spend 3 Days at Pearl Harbor

Pacific Aviation Museum Pearl Harbor News Release

Molokai students standing with B-25B Mitchell Bomber. Photo courtesy of Pacific Aviation Museum Pearl Harbor

For many students from the remote island of Molokai, traveling to Oahu for a three day field trip was something new and exciting. But imagine spending two nights at a “sleep over” on a battleship or climbing into a cockpit of a fighter jet. The action packed itinerary included hands-on aviation-related STEM activities and visits to historic World War II sites including Pacific Aviation Museum Pearl Harbor, USS Bowfin, USS Missouri, and USS Arizona Memorial.

Pacific Aviation Museum recently hosted 22 fifth and sixth graders from Maunaloa and Kilohana elementary schools, and five accompanying teachers and chaperones. The majority of funding was provided by Pacific Aviation Museum Pearl Harbor, in partnership with the USS Missouri Memorial Association.

“The Discover Pearl Harbor program is designed to bring history to life and to help students gain a better understanding of the science of flight,” said Shauna Tonkin, Director of Education, Pacific Aviation Museum Pearl Harbor. “The Museum launched the program in 2016, and… the highly interactive curriculum combines the elements of science, technology, engineering and math in a format that keeps students engaged.”

“Coming from a very rural town and island, this program is valuable in many different ways,” said fifth and sixth grade teacher Wendy Espaniola from Maunaloa Elementary School. “It not only provides an opportunity to learn the wonders of history and science hands-on, but it also removes them from their comfort zone. While we stress academics, this is also a great opportunity for them to work on their social skills outside of a familiar setting. There is more attentiveness, engagement, and participation across the board.”

“We are learning about what happened and why America got involved in the war, but we’re actually here, not just looking at pictures,” said Maunaloa Elementary School sixth grade student Rusty Morris. “We also learned about what makes planes fly, like the science, how the headwind makes a difference and how one change in the flaps and wings of a plane can change how well it flies.”

Added fellow Maunaloa Elementary School fifth grader Pikake Lee, “They told us about history and how everyone came together after the [Pearl Harbor] attack. Like how women got involved and helped build the planes and deliver them. I learned how a plane was built, in the factories. They also taught us group things like trusting your leader, and communicating so everyone understands instructions.”

Students participated in aviation-related STEM activities like using a wind tunnel to see the effects that airflow have on a wing, conducting a crash investigation of the famous B-17 Swamp Ghost and climbing into the cockpit of the iconic C-47 Gooney Bird.

Tonkin highlighted some of the many activities students enjoyed during their three-day stay. “You’ve explored the historic significance of Pearl Harbor; shot a rivet; flew the P-40; broke a top secret code; landed on an aircraft carrier; completed an Amazing Race; and maybe, just maybe, began to imagine yourself in the command of an aircraft someday.”


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