CAPE CORAL, Fla. — The Florida Department of Education is testing a new program “Into Space” at Island Coast High School in Cape Coral before they launch the program statewide.
The curriculum includes building and working on aircrafts to astronauts and everything else in the aerospace field. Former NASA rocket engine scientist Dr. William Downes teaches the program.
He said, “I’m a space guy that’s my life. I love it. I want to share it and inspire the young people. In 2050, we’re talking a million people on Mars. You're looking at who's going.”
Now, he encourages the next generation to expand their horizons.
“Everybody here, I want to be able to fly because it opens your mind and allows you to see the sky is unlimited,” Downes said.
The program partners with Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, who wrote the program's curriculum. They offer the Into Space program as dual credit with their University. They also provided the flight simulators students use in class at Island Coast High School.
Freshman Kylie Rodgers said it was nerve racking at first to learn how to use the flight simulator. Students can earn credit from the flight simulator toward a pilot and drone license if they want.
“What I love about space is the unknown about it. No one really knows about it, and I just want to keep learning about it,” Rodgers said.
Rodgers said after learning from Dr. Downes, she's interested in a future career possibly in the Air Force.
Dr. Downes added, "it [Into Space] makes it to them not a fairy tale, and this is a reality.”
The Florida Department of Education did not say when the rest of the state will adopt the program.