Thousands of kids climbed onto school buses in Virginia Beach, Virginia last week to go on a field trip. But this wasn't your average field trip -- it was a special event created just for them by the military.
They were going to see the Navy's Blue Angels perform, all in the name of education and STEM.
Science, Technology, Engineering and Math, or STEM, is an integral part of the curriculum in Virginia Beach. And through the Naval Air Station Oceana Oceana STEM Lab Learning Day on September 15, which culminated with the Blue Angels performance, more than 5,000 students were given the chance to have hands-on experiences that relate to concepts they're learning in school.
"The airshow is a great partnership between our schools and community," said Edgar Jumper, a fifth grade teacher at John B. Dey Elementary School. "It gives the students a look into the military and exposes them to possible STEM job opportunities in the future. The students are able to make real world connections to our science unit on force, motion, and energy while having a great time. "
Students spent the afternoon visiting stations with various activities, learning from professionals and getting up close and personal with military equipment.
"It was fun because we didn't just watch the airshow, we got to touch things like ship propellers and sit in a helicopter," said Carleigh Faulkner, a fifth grader at John B. Dey and a Navy brat.
NAS Oceana is one of several military bases in the Hampton Roads area of Virginia, making Virginia Beach home to lots of military families. The airshow is always a highlight for military families, as well as the general public, making this sneak peek even more special for the kids.
"My favorite part was the Blue Angels flying and doing tricks," said Bradi Johnson, another fifth grader and Navy brat who attended the field trip. "I learned that the pilots of the Blue Angels had to be very experienced aviators."
"It's really a cool show," said Brady Dunn, another fifth-grader at John B. Dey Elementary School. "And kinda scary at times too!"
But as his father Jimmy Ray Dunn, whose own father served in the military, stated after he attended the field trip as a chaperone, the air show goes way beyond being merely "cool."
"I think the Blue Angels give our youngsters a sense of the awesome power of our military and pride in their country," Dunn said. "The greatest country on the planet!"