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Activities using Cross Country Navigation and Flight Simulator STEM kits

Posted on September 23, 2021 at 4:52 PM by Virginia Smith

Cross Country Navigation and Flight Simulator STEM Kits

Lesson submission: Lt. Col. Michael Castania, New Jersey Wing Director of Aerospace Education and NHQ Volunteer Staff coordinator for AE external programs

Recommended uses: Adopt-A-Classroom, AE External Outreach activities

Resources:  Cross Country Navigation STEM Kit, Flight Simulator STEM Kit, Google Earth and SkyVector Software



Are you looking for new ways to challenge your cadets/students? Have you considered ordering a new STEM Kit? Ever thought of combining kits with other resources? What do you get when you couple CAP's Cross Country Navigation STEM Kit with (free) SkyVector Flight Planning software, Google Earth, and our Flight Simulator STEM Kits? 

Here's a great way to teach longitude/latitude, true course/magnetic course, flight planning, wind correction, aeronautical charts, the E6B, and more.

Cross Country Navigation STEM Kit: The thrill of flying is achieved through personal accomplishments and comes with unparalleled excitement and freedom with the Cross Country Navigation STEM Kit.   Included in the kit are Gleim Pilot Handbook, Gleim Private Pilot Knowledge Test, Cross Country Flight activity guide, New York sectional chart, two E6B flight computers, and two navigational plotters. 

Aviation Connection: This kit will help prepare cadets, students and other youth for flight planning prior to any orientation flight and/or further flight experience. While working to obtain a private pilot license (certificate), cadets and students will become familiar with airplane performance, effects of weather, basic VFR sectional charts, chart symbols, and aircraft cruise performance. 

Flight Simulators: For cadets, students in classrooms and youth organizations studying aviation education, CAP's flight simulators should provide a realistic piloting experience as the youth begin their own flight training or aviation-related programs. (This is especially pertinent to AFJROTC cadets, and those in the AFJROTC Flight Academy. It is also pertinent to AOPA You Can Fly educators and students, as well as other aviation programs.)  AEO and AEM educators should reach out to CAP or local pilots to assist in the flight simulator training as well as basic navigational flight planning and help mentor these youth. Although educators may have their own pilot connections, our own New Jersey Wing Civil Air Patrol pilots are an excellent resource, as noted above. 

For the AEMs: Locate the closest CAP squadron(s), enter your ZIP code in the "find your local squadron" section of the CAP homepage HERE. Then, reach out to the squadron point of contact and request any pilot assistance in the implementation of the Flight Simulator Kit as well as your Cross Country Navigation STEM Kit. Think about inviting some CAP cadets or pilots to come and speak to your students about the benefits of being a CAP cadet. This would enhance their overall program experience. 

Bonus activities/materials: Let's add Google Earth and SkyVector Software to the mix... 

Capt. Kathy Francis (New Jersey Wing DAE/External Programs and St. Catharine middle school science teacher) and I have successfully presented Cross Country Navigation to her 8th grade students using CAP's Cross Country Navigation STEM Kit, CAP Flight Simulator STEM Kit, SkyVector (free online) Flight Planning Software, and Google Earth.

Needless to say, the sky is no longer the limit when combining these FREE resources to provide a comprehensive learning/understanding of navigation, flight planning and future career choices all under the guise of having fun! The possibilities are endless as you combine these materials into a myriad of combinations. Here are just a few possibilities:


1. Scavenger Hunts using the aeronautical chart legend/key: have your cadets/students find and identify symbols found within a particular grid.
2. Locate a specific point(s) on the aeronautical chart: determine their lat/long;
3. Find it on Google Earth: Try the reverse... pick a point in Google Earth and locate it on the aeronautical chart.
4. Discuss the difference between true north and magnetic north.  
5. Define/explain Magnetic Deviation: How do you convert one to the other?  
6. Introduce the use of the plotter. Plot a course between two points. Determine true and magnetic course and distance. 
7. Weather information: Show students how and where to look for wind direction and speed along their chosen course. Do you have a CAP Weather STEM Kit at your location? The weather info could be right there!
8. Using the back of the E6B (the back is designed for wind vector solutions, i.e., determining how much the wind is affecting one's speed and course), determine the proper wind correction angle for a given flight and add that to their final solution. 
9. Introducing the front side of E6B (these flight computers are used during flight planning to aid in calculating fuel burn, wind correction, time en route, and other items. In the air, the flight computer can be used to calculate ground speed, estimated fuel burn and updated estimated time of arrival) determine simple computations (time en route at various airspeeds and other computations). Keep the tasks simple. Remember, there are inexpensive electronic calculators out there to verify the correct answers.
10. Introduce SkyVector Flight Planning Software. Have students plan a flight to a number of airports on the supplied aeronautical chart. Compare their actual flight planning using the plotter and chart to the computer's. Do not allow the students to create an account or try to file it.
11. Select two nearby local airports and have cadets/students plot a course. Note various obstacles (antenna, restricted airspace, etc.) along the route.
12. Use the Flight Simulator STEM Kit. Have cadets/students actually fly their course relying on heading instruments. (Note: choose two airports close together as the simulator flies in real time. The goal is simply to put newly learned skills into practice). 

Remember, this is just the tip of the iceberg depending upon how comfortable you are with the suggested materials and activities. There are many more activities out there that could be added to the above list... Capt. Francis and I kept it simple, and her students loved it. 

NOTE: If you come up with any additional activity suggestions, please share the wealth with us as what I have provided is not a definitive list of potential learning activities but they are certainly a lot of fun. I challenge you to come up with other STEM Kit combinations and activities (Sphero & Renewable Energy?) ... Remember, "The sky is no longer the limit"... "If you can dream it, you can do it"! 

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