Great State of Minds: Betances STEM Flight Simulator

HARTFORD -- Students at Betances STEM School in Hartford are learning about physics and flying through what is essentially a video game.

Mario Marrero is a technology teacher who runs a weekly class that is learning the basics of flying, and they have a room full of flight simulators to practice their skills. Before hopping in the cockpit, they first had to learn about what makes planes go.

“Flight is one thing that fascinates all of us. We’ve been doing a little bit of research about thrust, weight and gravity, drag, lift.” Mr. Marrero told us.

So once they get that physics background, it’s now time to fly their own planes. So how did it go?

Betances student Johnny Rosado told us, “The first time I did it, I crashed a whole bunch of times.”

There's a reason why flight simulators exist, and we don’t just put middle schoolers (or anyone else for that matter) behind the joystick of a fighter jet. Once the students start to get the hang of it, they complete what’s essentially a flight plan. There’s a checklist with tasks to achieve, and they fly through boxes to keep on course.

It’s not exactly a piece of cake to fly. Student Aaliya Swider says, “It’s really hard because it’s not really wired the way you would think it would be; like a video game or something. It’s different.”

Hands on learning is becoming more of a trend in schools, as it has shown its worth time and time again. Of course, it takes a good teacher as well.

“Shout out to Mr. Marrero. He’s been doing a great job. He’s explained it all to everyone in the classroom. He’s demonstrated it to us. He’s done examples, which made it a lot easier for us.”

In my great state of minds segments, I’ve already featured a few schools that have some very cool technology to go along with unique lesson plans. It doesn’t need to be science or technology-based, but if you know of any interesting curriculum that you’d like featured on TV, feel free to send me an email. The address is