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"'Pilot Program' provides new runway to math"

Sunday, April 7, 2002

'Pilot Program' provides new runway to math
By Kimberly Miller
The Palm Beach (FL) Post

WEST PALM BEACH -- Maggie Lynch pilots 737s with 140 people on board
four days a week. On Fridays, she teaches math to a class of Belvedere
Elementary fifth-graders, less than half of whom have ever even been on
an airplane.

Lynch, a 20-year veteran who flies for Southwest Airlines, is part of a
new program at Belvedere that teaches math from the perspective of an
airline pilot.

Students will spend four weeks charting flight paths, figuring out how
much fuel it takes to fly from one airport to another and learning about
the cities to which Lynch flies during the week, including Phoenix and

"This to me is the best way to learn because it's exciting and children
are getting all of their math skills in a fun way," Belvedere Principal
Sandra Brown said. 

Southwest contacted Brown's school this year to set up the classes,
which are appropriately dubbed the "Pilot Program."

The airline started the program five years ago, but Belvedere is the
first school in Palm Beach County to participate. 

Although Lynch is based in Orlando, she lives in Palm Beach County and
said she was happy to be part of the program.

Part of the reason she is doing it is to let female students know that,
although being an airline pilot is still a predominantly male
profession, women can fly, too. 

Of 4,300 Southwest Airlines pilots, about 150 are women.

"Fifty of those women are captains," Lynch said. "So we're swelling the

During Lynch's travels around the country, she will hand out stamped
postcards with Belvedere's address and ask passengers to send small
notes back to the students.

She will also take pictures of landmarks to speak about in class. 

Lynch worked with a math teacher to make sure that her topics cover the
Sunshine State Standards, which outline what each student should know at
each grade level. The Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test measures
those standards.

"As important as FCAT is, we want the children to know there is another
side to math, one that is fun," said Marsha Owens, Belvedere assistant


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