Welcome, New AEOs
Congratulations on becoming an Aerospace Education Officer! You will get the opportunity to shape lives by inspiring cadets and other youth in your community with STEM education.
10 Things You Need to Know as a New AEO
1. How do I get started?
Getting started is fairly easy. In no particular order, you should:
Check your eServices record to ensure that Aerospace Education Officer is listed in your Duty Assignments. If not, talk to your squadron commander about completing the duty assignment process.
Get a copy of CAP Pamphlet 50-1, the Aerospace Education Officer’s Handbook. It has a lot of good information in it, for both the beginner and the experienced AEO. You are also encouraged to keep notes, ideas, suggestions, etc. with it that apply to your particular unit. Don’t try to memorize it – just get familiar enough with it so that you can look things up easily.
Check out the AEO Calendar on the AE web page of GoCivilAirPatrol.com. You don’t need to log in to see it. Remember that it is broken down into five parts (Squadrons without Groups in their Wings, Squadrons with Groups in their Wings, Groups, Wings, and Regions). You only need to review the section that applies to you.
Additional resources that you can check out include the Aerospace Education web pages, in general, on www.GoCivilAirPatrol.com. CAP Regulation 50-1 that describes the mission of CAP AE, and CAP Pamphlet 50-2 that describes the specialty tracks for AEOs (more about that later).
And don’t let all of this information overwhelm you. Just take it one piece at a time – and ask questions!
2. Who can answer my questions?
There are two people that you can check with first – your Squadron Commander and the previous AEO (if they are still available).
If you have started on the training in your Specialty Track, then you should have been assigned a mentor. That individual is a valuable resource. If they do not have the answer you are looking for, try the AE web pages. There is a lot of information there.
Next, you can look to your chain of command. Keeping your Squadron Commander informed, you can then reach out to your Group AEO (if your wing has groups), the Wing Director of Aerospace Education (DAE), and then the Region DCS/Aerospace, in that order.
And as you grow in this role, you will meet many other AEOs in CAP. In addition to being your friends, they are also resources. Feel free to trade ideas.
3. What is the difference between an AEO and an AEM?
The AEO and the Aerospace Education Member (AEM) are both CAP members.
An AEO is an active member of CAP who serves in the duty position of Aerospace Education Officer in their unit. They may be referred to as a Senior Member, Fifty-year Member, or Life Member. Any member who maintains current membership in the active member category is entitled to attend meetings, hold a duty position, participate in CAP activities, wear the CAP uniform and exercise other privileges of membership.
The AEM is a special category of membership designed for formal or informal educators involved in promoting aerospace/STEM education in classrooms, homeschools, museums, libraries, or other youth organizations. They do not attend regular squadron meetings but have access to many free aerospace/STEM educational opportunities ranging from a variety of K-12 curriculum materials and STEM Kits to participating in a teacher orientation flight aboard one of our Cessna aircraft at their local airport.
Both AEOs and AEMs have CAP ID numbers and have access to the AE/STEM materials and STEM Kits.
4. I keep hearing about STEM Kits -- Can I get one?
Yes! As an AEO you can order one STEM kit at a time, for use in your unit. A full listing of the current STEM kits can be found here. The process to order a STEM Kit can be found here, including a video explaining how to complete the application.
Keep in mind that once you have used a STEM kit for six or more hours in your unit, you will also need to fill out an evaluation. Evaluations can be found in eServices alongside the form that you used to order the STEM kit. Once the evaluation is complete, you can then order your next one!
5. STEM Kits -- Is there a specific order in which I have to use them?
No, you can use the STEM kits in any order that supports the AE activities in your unit. Just remember to submit the evaluation on one before ordering the next.
6. Do I have to use a lesson from one of the books, or can I design my own?
The lessons in the books are there for your use. However, if you have a lesson that you want to use, especially if it supports an upcoming AE activity, you can use that instead.
7. Is there training for AEOs?
Yes! Your Group and/or Wing may offer training to the units under their command. In addition, there are Region Aerospace Education Officer (AEO) Schools and a National Aerospace Education Officer (AEO) School. Both of these are offered once a year, so keep an eye out for them! In addition, working with your mentor as part of the Specialty Track program will give you one-on-one training as well.
8. It seems like everything requires paperwork. Do I have any that I need to do?
There is one primary report that needs to be accomplished every year – the AE Activity Report. You can access it in eServices, and it summarizes all of your AE activities over the last fiscal year (1 October – 30 September). Some of it is pre-populated, but there is plenty of room for you to add items that you feel went above and beyond the basic requirements. Keeping an informal “diary” will help you when it is time to fill it out.
In addition, certain activities also require reports if your unit is participating. For example, the Aerospace Excellence (AEX) program needs you to enter the six activities and the “field trip” that you did. This can be entered online, as you accomplish each activity so that you don’t have to wait (or remember) everything at the end of year.
If you are nominating someone for an award, there is a process for that. Please check with your unit commander to ensure that awards are processed according to unit/CAP policy. Due dates can be found in the AE Calendar.
Your Wing and/or Group may also have reports that they need you to address. Check with your unit commander to see if there are any.
9. Is a STEM Kit the only special activity I can do as an AEO?
There are a lot of special activities you can do as an AEO. Here are some examples:
• Aerospace Connections in Education (ACE)
• Aerospace Excellence (AEX)
• Stellar Explorers
• Model Rocketry
• TOP Flights
• High Altitude Balloon Challenge (HAB)
• Seminars at Conferences. And some conferences also have AE competitions.
• Museums/Planetariums and other “field trips”
You can find descriptions of all of these on the AE web pages.
And remember that this is just a sampling of things you can get involved with. Plan, but be flexible – other opportunities may suddenly appear!
10. Does a Senior Member have to be enrolled in the AE Specialty Track in order to assist the squadron/Group AEO?
No, any senior member can assist the AEO during the activities, and many of them have fun doing so. In addition, you may find other senior members who have a hobby or profession that is AE-related and would make wonderful guest speakers. When performing activities outside of the squadron meeting, you may also need additional senior members to ensure proper supervision and compliance with Cadet Protection Policy Training (CPPT).