Learning takes flight at Pearson Field Education Center

Simulators, gliders part of instructive fun during Saturday Open program

By Dameon Pesanti, Columbian staff writer

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As the children at the Pearson Field Education Center were having fun throwing gliders, flying simulated airplanes and running balloon-powered cars Saturday afternoon, they might have not realized they were getting a hands-on education in aeronautics.

As schools around the county bring a renewed focus on science, engineering, math and technology, administrators at facilities such as the education center at Pearson Field want to give kids another way to see how the things they learn apply beyond the textbook.

Executive Director Garrett Schmidt said the center is getting a lot attention from the public, especially from Portland residents. On Saturday, more than 50 people visited, and there were 70 the week before, numbers Schmidt feels good about considering the center is open for only four hours every Saturday.

On Saturday’s drizzly afternoon, a couple of children and their parents stood among the airplanes that dominate the room and listened as a volunteer explained what was in the cockpits, early teens sat at the row of computers on flight simulators, and a young child threw a glider across the room.

“We to try offer a remedy for their cabin fever,” Schmidt said.