Black Hawk Helicopter and students

A Black Hawk Army helicopter swooped onto the grounds at Mitchell Elementary School, Thursday, June 1, marking the last day of school and inspiring students to keep engaged with science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) learning over the summer—and also spurring questions.

“Why does it have so many buttons?” “What is a co-pilot?” And a serious question from kindergarten student Max Nordman.

“What happens if you forget how to do something?”

Chief Warrant Officer 4 Jim Funk, a Black Hawk instructor pilot with the Army National Guard Charlie 147 Aviation Company based in Boone, arranged with Mitchell Principal Justin Jeffs to provide the larger-than-life learning event.Funk said since he returned from several deployments to Iraq, Kosovo, Egypt and southwest Asia, connecting students with STEM has become a priority.

“The STEM initiative is a great opportunity for us to establish a rapport with the kids,” Funk said. “Everything we do in our occupation as pilots uses science, technology, engineering and math.” 

Jeffs said giving students the chance to see, hear, touch and explore the helicopter will reinforce the importance of STEM knowledge as the basis for designing, building and flying it.

Visiting schools helps members of  the Iowa National Guard establish a healthy connection with the community, said Funk, who also mentors a student at Mitchell through YSS.

Along with Funk, the Black Hawk crew complement included Captain Aaron Rosheim, of Ames and Staff Sergeant Dan Lennon, of Boone.