2023 has been a big year for the Aerospace Center for Excellence (ACE). With the addition of programs such as Wings ‘n Waffles and Cookies ‘n Convos to revamping our timeless programs such as Summer Camps and Wings ‘n Things, ACE has been expanding its reach to nearly 25,000 students this year alone. Let’s dive into the many new and continuing programs that ACE has to offer year-round.
Junior ACES is a dedicated youth education area during the annual SUN ‘n FUN Aerospace Expo. The ACE team comes together during the week to provide enhanced learning and engagement opportunities for youth between the ages of 7-17. Youth are given a map of various spots within the Junior ACES area to visit and after the completion of visiting each of those areas, they are awarded a tool kit! Junior ACES will be returning for the 2024 SUN ‘n FUN Aerospace Expo! For more information on it, click here.
This year, we have begun providing field trips to ALL of the 5th graders in Polk County. Along with many other grades and schools throughout this year. Field trips take students throughout our Skylab Innovation Center to interact with the various STEM activities in each classroom and the NOAA Science on a Sphere. Students get to visit the Florida Air Museum to take tours with our expert Museum staff and learn about aviation history. They also visit the Buehler Restoration Center to see many types of engines and restoration projects. For more information on how your school can get involved with field trips at ACE, click here.
Story Time is a reading program we provide for free for kids 2-5 every Tuesday at the Florida Air Museum. Ms. Jennilyn interacts with the kids by singing songs, dancing, and of course, reading!
Cookies ‘n Convos
This year, the Cookies ‘n Convos guest speaker series began. Each month, we welcome a speaker with professional experience in the Aerospace industry for kids to listen to and ask questions; in turn, this inspires them to see the many different career possibilities that the industry has to offer. Oh, plus, they get to eat cookies too!
Wings ‘n Waffles
Chicken AND waffles?? Our adult version of Cookies ‘n Convos began this year as well, only this program is for the adults! Every month, we welcome an aerospace professional to speak about their career and give adults a perspective on what the aerospace industry has to offer. It’s a great learning experience. Those who attend get to listen while eating delicious chicken and waffles. Yum!
Since 1999, ACE has been operating summer camps every year. This past year, there were five camps for ages 7-17. Take Flight, Future Engineer, STEMtastic, She Can Fly, and Destination Aviation camps engaged students in STEM-based activities, field trips to places like Jet Blue and Kennedy Space Center, held discovery flights, and so much more! Did you know summer camp registration is open for 2024? Click here to see what camps we will offer this summer!
Kid’s Museum Day
In August this year, we hosted Kid’s Museum Day at the Florida Air Museum. Museum admission was free, and we had multiple activities outside for the kids to enjoy! We had bounce houses, snow cones, Snapology, crafts, and food trucks! It was a day filled with family fun for everyone.
Stuffed Animal Flight School
Has your stuffed animal ever dreamed of becoming a pilot? Stuffed Animal Flight School provided just the place for your furry friends to go for their flight training and complete their pilot’s certificate. The training began when the stuffed animals were dropped off at flight school, and then they went through rigorous training to complete their certificate. By the next day, they received their wings!
Girls in Aviation Day
In September, ACE hosted Girls in Aviation Day alongside the Women in Aviation Lakeland Chapter! The Florida Air Museum and the Skylab Innovation Center were opened up with many activities, guest speakers, and vendors for girls to come through and learn more about aviation!
Wings ‘n Things
Every year, ACE puts together Wings ‘n Things, where kids of all ages can experience the wonders of aerospace through hands-on activities that range from building a wing rib to exploring flight through simulation, to constructing and testing your own balsa wood glider!
Polar Express: Air Mail Edition
Recently, to get into the spirit of Christmas, we took trips to the North Pole to visit Santa! The night included listening to Ms. Jennilyn read “The Polar Express” and then boarding the Piedmont 727, where their golden ticket was stamped. The flight included singing from one of Santa’s elves, and as soon as the flight landed, Santa greeted everyone on board! Everyone took selfies with Santa before returning to ACE where the kids were greeted with cookies and hot chocolate!