By Starla Pointer • Staff Writer • 

Grant will aid Evergreen's education program

The money comes from SOAR Oregon, a not-for-profit economic development organization. The museum will use the grant to buy materials.

Participants will be able to build and fly small UAVs during summer camps, after-school programs and school field trips.

“We want to engage kids in a way that will tie to real-world uses and inspire them,” said Hilda Pereyo, Evergreen’s director of education. She said youngsters can take inspiration from the UAVs on display at the Space Museum, including a giant Northrop Grumman RQ-41 Global Hawk.

Aileen Lennon of SOAR visited Tuesday to present the award.

She said SOAR gives most of its money to industry members. But when museum educators approached the organization for help, SOAR was happy to back the idea of teaching more young people about drones.

“Evergreen’s reputation and other educational programs were good,” so SOAR knew the UAV program would be high quality, she said.

Lennon said the Evergreen UAV program and SOAR’s efforts will help expand the UAV industry. “We want Oregon to be a drone-smart state” that will create workers for the burgeoning industry, as well, she said.

“We can do that,” Pereyo responded.

Museum educators Tim Morris and Robert Jordan will oversee the hands-on program, which falls under the auspices of STEM — Science, Technology, Engineering and Math.

They plan to start this summer. By next year, Morris said, they hope to have advanced UAV sessions, as well as the basics. 

One premise Morris wants students to learn is this: UAVs serve a wide range of uses.

“The first thing kids think is ‘drone,’ which is a loaded word,” he said. “They think of drones used for spying or firing missiles. But 90 percent of UAVs are for sport, agriculture, search and rescue, or other uses.”

Students who learn about UAVs at Evergreen may go on to build or remotely pilot a craft, or develop new uses for one, Morris and Pereyo said.

The museums already reach more than 27,000 students a year with radio-controlled plane, rocketry and other aviation- and space-related educational programs, Morris said. In addition to attracting families visiting the museum on their own, Pereyo said Evergreen partners with McMinnville, Sherwood and some Portland schools to provide more STEM-related field trips.

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