Taking inspiration from a Black Oklahoma aviation pioneer, Teamwork Makes the Dream Work reached for the skies Saturday with its ninth annual event.
Set at the FISTA Innovation Park at Central Plaza, this year’s event to stimulate young learners was The Simon Berry Project: All Things Aviation.
According to Onreka Johnson, it was “the visionary” Kim Jones who first put the Teamwork Makes the Dream Work event together to focus on STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) learning to inspire young minds.
Jones shared the story of Simon Berry as an example of how someone can succeed through using their mind, abilities and determination to blaze new trails.
From Tulsa’s historic Greenwood District, Berry’s entrepreneurship led to him being one of six Oklahoma Black owners of private planes in the 1920s. With that, he and his partner, James Lee Northington, earned pilot’s licenses and launched an air charter service the flew Black and white passengers, along with offering cargo service to oil barons.
Jones said Berry also began a car ride service that predates Uber, Jitney, along with a bus service, auto garage and mechanic school.
In that spirit, Saturday’s event was partnered by Berry Aviation, Buffalo Soldiers Motorcycle Club, Cameron University’s Engineering Department, Lawton Public Library, Comanche County 4-H Club, Great Plains Technology Center, Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Inc., Phi Delta Kappa Sorority, Inc., Spread the Word Ministries, and The Next Step TLP, Inc.
Stations were set up throughout the event space.
The kids were issued passports to STEM success that featured their photos as well as spots for each destination station to be marked like a real passport.
As she showed her passport, Bishop Elementary student Mieke Wagner, 11, said the event was interesting for her.
“I like science,” she said.
Scientific principles of flight were tackled through activities at the different stations. Jones said the Buffalo Soldiers Motorcycle Club offered examples of Newton’s three laws of motion. Barry Aviation had drones on display and offered other principles that effect flight.
At one station, Great Plans Technology Center pre-engineering instructor Marcia Brown was using a 5-gallon bucket opened at both ends, filled with smoke and covered with a diaphragm on one end. Puling back on the diaphragm and releasing it sent a puff of smoke forming a ring over the heads of the kids.
Next, Brown issued the kids pieces of paper and showed them how to fold the creases into paper airplanes while explaining Newton’s Third Law: the Law of Action-Reaction.
“This is physics at work,” she said as she sent her small paper glider airborne.
Nine-year-old Carriage Hills Elementary student Ayden Marterborough sat on the ground and worked to craft his plane. When it didn’t look quite right, he watched other kids forming their own and revised his model over and over. And then the fun part: he sent it sailing for a few feet in the air before crashing to earth.
Small changes were made after each flight to make improvements. Marterborough was learning a principle of science by experimenting, modifying and trying again until he got it right.
At another station, PVC pipe was set up with empty 2-liter soda bottles at one end and paper rockets wrapped around another. Virtual student Angel Carpenter, 12, stood at one and Rose Skiffington, 11, from Ridgecrest Elementary, stood at another. On the count of three, they each stomped on their bottles, which forced air through the hollow pipe and into the waiting rockets to propel a launch into the air.
Skiffington said she wasn’t a huge fan of science. But she agreed she was having “a pretty fun day”.