Sometimes the easiest answer is the best one. This is certainly the case when it comes to sparking kid’s interest in aviation, engineering, and STEM topics.
So what’s the easiest answer (and the best)? Intuitive, curiosity-lead teaching. Parents and educators can consider leaning into the benefits of the most positive parts of whatever topic they’re introducing,
Think of it this way: When introducing kids to a known positive like, say, broccoli, we don’t feed them stem first. But that’s exactly what we do with STEM.
Note also that the question of how to make something fun for others can be tightly tied to making it fun for yourself. In other words, the more parents and educators know and explore their own natural curiosities within a topic, the easier it will be for them to pick up genuine points of interest. Parents and educators benefit greatly from “taking their own medicine.” If you want to interest kids in aviation, flying, aerodynamics, or STEM topics of any kind, interest yourself first, and everything will be much smoother.
Cool things about aviation? There are a million options, and one of the tried-and-true points of interest is around aviators and pilots. History has many, and both kids and parents find them appealing. Some of the most interesting and talented aviators are also the most controversial. Manfred von Richthofen, the WW1 German fighter pilot, also known as the Red Baron, for instance, or the eccentric billionaire Howard Hughes. Who can resist these stories or these personalities? And who is to say they can’t be natural, positive entry points into the curious minds of children.
5 coolest pilots for kids | History’s aviators
Amelia Earhart is a very well-known name from history. She was one of the first-ever pilots to cross the Atlantic in 1928. The accomplishment earned her a U.S. Distinguished Flying Cross.
Accomplishments: In addition to being the first woman to fly across the Atlantic, Earhart also set the Woman’s Altitude world record by reaching 14,000 FEET.
Born: July 24, 1897
Died: July 2, 1937
Fun facts: During World War I, Amelia became a nurse's aid in Toronto, Canada, to tend to wounded soldiers.
James H. Doolittle was an expert pilot and American military general. Best known for his 1922 solo crossing of the continental United States,
Accomplishments: In addition to his solo crossing, James H. Doolittle was awarded the Medal of Honor for personal valor and leadership as commander of the Doolittle Raid, a bold long-range retaliatory air raid on the Japanese mainland,
Born: December 14, 1896
Died: September 27, 1993
Fun fact: James Doolittle invented a funnel-and-tube-based "pilot dehydrator"—possibly the earliest airplane toilet
Baron Manfred Von Richthoven, also known as the “Red Baron” became known during World War I as an incredibly talented pilot in the German Air Force. Afterward, the Red Baron became even more widely known because of his appearance in Peanuts Snoopy cartoons.
Accomplishments: Baron Manfred Von Richthoven WAS the top scoring flying ace of World War I, with 80 aerial victories.
Born: May 2, 1892
Died:April 21, 1918
Fun fact:The British Army came up with the “Red Baron” nickname due to Von Richthoven’s red colored plane, and his aristocratic lineage.
Giora "Hawkeye" Epstein (Hebrew: גיורא אפשטיין), today Giora Even (Hebrew: גיורא אבן), is a retired brigadier General in the Israeli Air Force (IAF). He’s one the most successful modern aviators with 17 credited victories, 16 against Egyptian jets and one against an Egyptian Mi-8 helicopter.