Last updated: March 21. 2014 11:48PM - 774 Views
By Michael Ullery

Lauren Hartings, 11, of St. Henry works with her team to re-create geographic features via GPS triangulation during a home school program at the WACO Learning Center on Thursday.
Lauren Hartings, 11, of St. Henry works with her team to re-create geographic features via GPS triangulation during a home school program at the WACO Learning Center on Thursday.
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Mike Ullery

Staff Photographer


TROY — The classic line from the film, Field of Dreams, “If you build it, they will come,” has been used many times since the film debuted in 1989.

Never has that quote been more appropriate than when applied to Historic WACO Field and the WACO Learning Center in Troy.

The popularity of educational programs, in particular Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) programs, provided at the Learning Center, has students and teachers seeking to participate and businesses happy to help fund these vital programs.

The WACO Learning Center announced this week that the Dayton Power and Light Company presented a grant for $30,000 to sponsor the 2014 WACO Learning Center Program.

“WACO Learning Center offers a variety of courses and learning experiences for all ages.” said Nancy Heiss, director of the Learning Center, “Last year we touched over 1,500 students and trained over 40 teachers to teach STEM-related courses. This grant will allow us to continue to offer and grow our programs in 2014.”

Holly Wiggins, community outreach manager for DP&L, visited the WACO Learning Center on Thursday. A group of home school students was at the museum, learning the basics of triangulation using GPS satellites.

Wiggins, WACO Executive Director Gretchen Hawk, and board member Don Willis, watched as Heiss led ten home school students through the basics of triangulation problems as part of WACO’s partnership with NASA. Students were then instructed to map an area using the process, then re-create the same area, based on their calculations.

As Wiggins watched the students, some from as far away as St. Henry, she noted that DP&L “supports programs such this is that we know these young students that are learning STEM-related school work early on in their lives, are going to be the leaders in the future that are going to continue with the economic development and expansion in the Miami Valley.”

“They need this type of education in order to lead the next generation,” said Wiggins.

The partnership between WACO and DP&L is not a new one. The DP&L Foundation provided a grant for 2012 STEM-related courses.

Wiggins said, “We recognize the incremental growth and progress of the WACO Learning Center over the past two years and this year, DP&L increased our support to help the center expand, specifically in its STEM-related courses. This program reaches many students and adults, and aligns with the community development activity that DP&L supports.”

This year will be a busy one for the WACO Learning Center. An FAA certified ground school program will take place this spring along with an “All About Aviation Campout” for Boy Scouts, giving them the opportunity to earn aviation merit badges.

Pre-school students will be introduced to aviation with Pre-School Story Hour. Troy City Schools 6th graders visit WACO for two days each spring, taking part in a Field Day that includes aviation history, RC aircraft, theory of flight and paper rocketry. A rocket build-and-fly day will be held in May. “There really is something for everyone,” said Hawk.

“We try to keep this affordable to students,” said Willis, who serves a treasurer of the board, “We set tuition to to cover the cost of materials, so grants like this one from DP&L are needed to cover overhead like utilities, facility cost, advertising and administration. This allows us to serve the most people.”

For more information on programs for all ages at Historic WACO Field and the WACO Learning Center, visit their website at www.wacoairmuseum.org.

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