Zimbabwe’s First Aviation-STEM Tour Introduces Students to Careers in Drones, Robotics
In July 2022, Zimbabwe Flying Labs was invited to partner with African Leaders in Aviation (ALA) and Girl Up Zimbabwe to co-organize the first Aviation-STEM (Avi-STEM) Tour in Zimbabwe. The Avi-STEM Tour aimed to deliver aviation industry-related job career guidance to young girls in several public schools in the capital city of Harare. The theme was ‘Breaking Down STEM using Aviation.’
ALA is a nonprofit organization that aims to establish, serve and support the African Aviation industry and careers in STEM by empowering women and raising honourable leaders. Together with Zimbabwe Flying Labs and supported by Precision Aerial, the Tour was made possible with the help of different professionals within the aviation industry.
The week-long Tour took several months of planning and collaboration to make a reality. Over five days, we reached four different schools and over 400 girls aged 13-16.
The team was joined by different professionals in the Aviation field, including Airline pilots, Drone Pilots, Aeronautical Engineers, GIS specialists, Airport management specialists, Drone instructors, and crewed Aviation instructors. The Tour also included a local University of Zimbabwe Drone Club team, and they shared their experience and showcased some of their engineering drone designs.
The Avi-STEM tour enabled young learners to explore different careers within the crewed and Unmanned Aviation fields and encouraged more girls to take STEM subjects.
Since Unmanned Aviation (Drones) is still relatively new, the Tour was a journey of discovery for most learners as they had not seen a drone before.
Our team gave an overview of drone technology, the different use cases, explored careers in the industry, and how educational drones are used in the classroom to explain STEM-related concepts. Then, the young learners took a maiden flight around their classroom. To their surprise, it was exhilarating.
Forty girls participated in a feedback exercise. For 80 percent of them, it was their first time seeing a drone. Ninety percent did not know the different careers within the drone industry. It was evident that many young learners had not been exposed to the technology or the opportunities within this emerging industry. The Aviation tour piqued the interest not only of STEM students but those who had opted for commercial subjects after understanding how drone technology is applicable in many industries.
We are excited about what the future holds for young learners, and we hope through sponsorship, we can reach more innovative leaders through our Drones in STEM Education programs that are designed to teach young learners 21st Century Skills and the future of work.
Our goal as Zimbabwe Flying Labs to reach 10 000 young learners over the next five years is slowly taking shape.