Located in Ashland, Nebraska, right between Lincoln and Omaha, the Strategic Air & Space Museum occupies 300,000 square feet worth of awesome STEM inspiration. Aeronauts, engineers, history buffs, scientists, aerospace manufacturers, and mathematicians will find educational heaven as they wander through exhibits showcasing the aircraft of the Strategic Air Command, the very same planes that helped the SAC preserve peace during the Cold War.
However, the Strategic Air & Space Museum has recommitted itself to a new mission, reflected in part by their new name: The Strategic Air Command and Aerospace Museum. (You can read more about the process of the museum’s name change here.) As they explain, “The SAC story is about far more than the conflict that simmered between the U.S. and the Soviet Union between the end of World War II and the dissolution of the Soviet regime. The SAC story is also about scientific exploration, technological innovation, and a genuine commitment to the rigorous education and training of Americans to preserve our nation’s security.”
In an effort to redefine its story, the museum established a partnership with the University of Nebraska at Omaha’s STEM office to provide better, clearer educational opportunities for students, teachers, families, and adult learners.
Nebraska has a long, storied history in the aviation industry. According to the Nebraska Historical Society, one of America’s most celebrated pilots, Charles Lindbergh, even learned to fly at the Lincoln Flying School. Led by the Lincoln Aircraft company, the state is still a repository for aerospace manufacturers. Just this year, Kawasaki Heavy Industries, Ltd. established a brand new production line in Lincoln to manufacture cargo doors for Boeing’s 777X airplane. If you’re interested in flight, airplanes, or aerospace manufacturing, both the history and the present, Nebraska is a wonderful place to be.
And in light of their new efforts to extend educational outreach, the Strategic Air & Space Museum has more resources for learners than ever before. Just this week, the North Platte Telegraph reported that the museum’s education department visited Lincoln Elementary to teach students at their Kids Klub Science Olympiad Fun Day. “It’s a great opportunity to reach beyond that 50-mile footprint we have,” said Phil Onwiler, SASM director of education.
In addition, anyone who’s able to reach the museum itself can enjoy some truly spectacular activities. Take, for example, their new Drone Club: Launched in October, the Academy of Model Aeronautics is the only chartered drone club in Nebraska. Along with field trips, workshops, and scout trips, the AMA includes both indoor and outdoor sites for members who wish to fly their drones. The indoor obstacle course is open through February in the Durham Restoration Hanger, and the outdoor flying site with a 40,000 square foot obstacle course will open up again in April.
SASM will also be hosting a new traveling exhibit from the Museum of Discovery, “Science & Art.” Designed to introduce visitors to art that demonstrates how science and art can intersect, multimedia experiences and interactive art projects will excite and delight, even for those who might not have known that they love science.
From exhibits to school outreach to in-house clubs, the renaissance of the SASM brings with it a host of opportunities for all Nebraskans. We’ll look forward to seeing the ways in which the museum continues to develop its relationship with Nebraska STEM!