Lead Interpreter Jean Middleton tells a group of youngsters about the museum’s Curtiss Jenny.

If you were in the museum this summer you could not miss the din of children’s voices echoing through the historic building.

This year we have been focusing on providing new programs specifically geared toward a younger audience.

“We’ve been doing tours and activities for daycares and summer camps. So they can come in for a visit and see the museum,” says Lead Interpreter Jean Middleton. “We’ve had kids from 18 months to 12 years.”

And to keep all those little hands and minds busy Middleton and her crew designed a bunch of new programs such as making bird kites and a parachute lab complete with testing facility. More than 650 children have taken part this summer. Middleton credits our Young Canada Works summer students Sarah Brunsden and Daniel Greeways for coming up with original ideas to appeal to younger minds.

Summer student Sarah Brunsden helps a child try on a real parachute.

“Sarah and Daniel planned most of the activities and they facilitated everything. And they helped out around the museum with a lot of other things as well.” The pair also made it possible to offer a monthly drop-in for children with programs ranging from an aircraft design lab to an escape room.

The Servus Free Access Nights, which provide free admission between 5pm and 8pm on the last Thursday of every month, have also been very popular, with about 1000 people visiting in June, July,August and September. Servus has graciously agreed to extend the Free Access Nights for 2019/2020 so there will be many more opportunities to bring family and friends to this unbeatable deal.

This fall the museum has arranged for student interns from the province’s Serving Communities Internship Program (SCIP) and that will allow us to expand the Family Drop-in Programs to every second Saturday beginning this Saturday October 5. Plans are also in the works to provide other new programming.

There are also changes in store for one of the most popular programs at the museum, the Grade Six Theory of Flight, offered to Edmonton area schools. Last year more than 1,500 students learned about flight and aviation at the museum. Middleton says the new RedBird flight simulators, which were offered as part of a more advanced program, will now be part of the curriculum for all students.

Summer student Daniel Greenways prepares to lead a day care class through the museum.

“Teachers said they wanted more interactive elements. So every class will get about 20 to 25 minutes hands-on time on the simulators. They will also spend more time looking at airplanes and watching other demonstrations.”

The Alberta Aviation Museum is committed to offering more programming and exploring new ways to bring people, especially children and teens, into the hangar to explore aviation and learn about our important flying heritage.

Keep an eye on our social media pages for new programs. And for teachers and schools who want to sign up for the Grade Six Theory of Flight, bookings are now being accepted here.