This 1963 Beechcraft Musketeer was destined for retirement but has now been restored as a tool for aviation education at Caboolture’s Catholic secondary school, St Columban’s College.
In years 7-12, students can participate in the co-curricular club, which has included the opportunity over the course of 12 months to re-assemble and service this old plane so that the engine runs. It’s a hands-on opportunity focused STEM learning – not just for those who like aviation, but also students who are interested in mechanics or engineering.
The college also offers an aviation elective from year 9 and options in senior schooling including Aerospace Systems and Aviation Certificate III in drone operations.
Because of its experience in aviation and aerospace, the It’s Rocket Science Adventures team has taken more than a little enjoyment from facilitating this restoration project.
From a Dalby farm to Caboolture college
In August 2019, It’s Rocket Science sourced the plane, known as ‘Betty’, and led a team to disassemble and transport the Beechcraft Musketeer from its previous life on a farm in Dalby all the way to St Columban’s College in Caboolture, north of Brisbane.
By the end of Semester 1, 2020: success! The students were invited to work alongside pilots and aircraft engineers restoring and maintaining the plane, connecting the electrical system and getting the engine running. Next, the students will restore the plane’s interior, replace crazed windows and service the instruments with the goal on the horizon in sight—to be able to be able to taxi the plane around the school oval.
Hands-on education that really flies
For It’s Rocket Science Founder and pilot Cran Middlecoat, it’s where aviation industry expertise and experience meets a passion for flying and inspiration in education.
‘This is a really exciting opportunity for these students to learn about aviation beyond what can be taught in the classroom,’ said Cran.
‘We love being able to teach students in a hands-on way about flight and to make connections to potential future careers.’
Aviation and aerospace programs opening doors to STEM careers
St Columban’s Curriculum Leader for Business and Aviation, Simone Buckingham, said the school’s aviation program was designed to include work experience and mentoring relationships with industry professionals.
‘Even if students don’t take up an aviation career, there are other careers such as engineering, design and technology and science. We have an extensive aviation program, but we lend that to STEM opportunities and employment as well,’ Ms Buckingham said.
It’s Rocket Science Adventures has an ongoing relationship with St Columban’s College, launching rockets at the school’s ‘taster days’ where potential students from surrounding primary schools have an excursion to the school to see what it’s like.
‘The aerospace program is always a winner with the engaging and amazing team from It’s Rocket Science Adventures who help us learn more about rockets and the science behind them—having a bit of fun in the process!’