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Local students inspired by Aerospace STEM Course

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Some Hernando County students involved with the Doorpost Home School Co-op are getting a unique education this year. Through a partnership with the Hernando County Squadron of the Civil Air Patrol (CAP), Doorpost students can opt to take a semester-long STEM course that is based on Aviation and Space. The course offers a unique look into the fundamentals of flight, orbital mechanics, drones, weather, navigation, and other technology commonly used in a rapidly growing aerospace industry.

The course is taught by volunteer Senior and Cadet members of the local CAP. “The CAP has a three-fold mission consisting of Emergency Services, Cadet Programs, and Aerospace Education. I can’t think of a better way to both accomplish our aerospace education mission and give our cadets a valuable training experience at the same time,” said CAP project director Major Lance Hernandez.

The project is a big win in the eyes of Doorpost administrators too. Tara Hendry is the mother of two CAP cadets, who are also homeschoolers. Recognizing both the CAP’s resources as well as the educational needs of homeschoolers, it didn’t take her long to put the two together. She said that the integration of the CAP’s Aerospace Education module has been extremely popular among students. The course has the biggest sign-up of all courses offered at Doorpost this semester,” she said.

Sixteen-year-old Trent Doherty is a Cadet Senior Master Sergeant in the CAP cadet program and an instructor at Doorpost. He said that teaching others helped him learn both about the topic at hand and how to teach it to others. Trent also credits the program with improving his public speaking skills. Trent said he is motivated by “Getting to teach others and getting them inspired.” He added, “Space is the most inspiring topic out there.” Trent is also an Eagle Scout and plans on going into an aerospace or engineering career after he graduates college.

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Students Jamen Quast (14) and Arissa Rigdon (15) were pretty excited about the course too. Jamen said it was his mother who first suggested he take the course. He said now that he is in it, he wants to join the Civil Air Patrol Cadet program so he can learn even more about aeronautics. Arissa had a different reason for taking the course. Arissa said she is interested in a career in nursing but loves science, so she took the course for scientific knowledge.

Doorpost Co-op directors Jeanette McGrew and Jen Porter said it was great to have outside volunteers as well as parent involvement in the program. The Doorpost Co-op is sponsored by Christian Church in the Wildwood in Spring Hill, though not all students are church members. They currently operate on a waiting list basis, but some student slots open every semester as families move into and out of the area, according to McGrew.

Students who are interested in learning more about aerospace and leadership are invited to attend a Civil Air Patrol Cadet meeting. The minimum age to be a cadet is 12 or completion of the sixth grade. The squadron meets on Tuesday nights at 7:00 PM at their headquarters, 3151 Air Commerce Blvd., Brooksville, FL. More information on CAP is available at https://fl301.cap.gov/ .

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