iFLY and the spark of science: every parent's challenge
Oklahoma City family fun leaves a lasting impression, on some occasions more than others.
My son, Isaac, is 5. He's headed to kindergarten in the fall but before he gets there, I know we're in for a summer of science and exploration. The usual kid fascination with dinosaurs is a big part of Isaac's world right now; he will tell anyone who will listen that he loves science and wants to be a paleontologist when he grows up. Isaac looks under every rock for bug larvae, every checkout stand for coins; he's interested in discovering things.
It's only mid-May but we got the summer off to a great start last week at iFLY. If you're unfamiliar with the concept of indoor skydiving, click here to find out more. My oldest son, Sam, also wrote a Kid Review when he tried it out last year to share a first-hand perspective of the experience, which really isn't like any other. I can attest to that since I did it too.
Isaac, though, is a different child than Sam. I wasn't sure iFLY would be suitable for him, since he's more serious-natured and five years younger.
I was surprised how much fun Isaac had, actually, not because I didn't expect him to enjoy the incredible experience that is flying but because it's a lot to process. There were no tears of anxiety; he didn't show any hesitation to step inside the wind tunnel. Part of any possible fear was mitigated by the short group overview we did before his turn, with a quick instructional video and the chance to ask questions.
What didn't surprise me about the visit was that Isaac wanted to know more about the science behind how the machines and the actual flying part work. One of his shoes slipped off during his flight and rocketed to the top of the tunnel, which was memorable and prompted additional science-related questions later.
There are really good ways to learn about that science through iFLY as an organized field trip. The cost is also really manageable, at less than $40 per child. If you've paid for anything in school recently, you know that's not bad, especially considering less interesting alternatives. There are also fundraising ideas the iFLY staff can give you before the new school year even starts.
Unlike a lot of field trip venues, iFLY will bring in an actual science education professional to lead your group's field trip session and make it age-appropriate. You just have to let them know you're coming. The instructor will lead a lab portion related to physics and the science of flight and then each student does get to fly. It doesn't have to be through a school, though, so if you want to try it out this summer, there are ways; it's just a minimum group of 15 participants and you could do it through the Girl Scouts, through a homeschooling organization or basically any group of 15 kids or more. Kids as young as 3 can participate and there are science lessons for elementary, middle school and high school students.
I can only speak for myself as I parent three sons in the golden age of silver screens; at my house, we are trying to find the right balance between the useful aspects of the daily technology that's in so much of our daily life now with phones and tablets. There's a fine line between skills practice and wasted time when it comes to screens. Figuring out where that lies for us will be important this summer too, along with how to continue science education outside of school.
MetroFamily is hosting a themed event along with the Girl Scouts of Western Oklahoma called Geekapalooza that's centered on topics related to science, technology, engineering, art and math (STEAM). Mark your calendar for June 24 at the Oklahoma School of Science and Math (OSSM); choose your session and get your tickets here.
Figuring out just how to make science relevant and keeping that spark, the natural curiosity kids have about the world, around for as long as possible is my challenge as a parent. I know I'm not alone in that and there are definitely resources to help.
If your child learns best while having fun, iFLY stands out as an excellent way to teach physics beyond the classroom. I'd so much rather pay for a terrific experience than another toy that will be forgotten soon.
Isaac won't forget iFLY. I hope his enthusiasm for science stays just as long too.