An important lesson in teamwork
EDWARDS AIR FORCE BASE, Calif — Students attending STARBASE received a lesson about Orange Flag and the importance of teamwork and coordination at Edwards Air Force Base on Dec. 10.
The Orange Flag exercise tests the interoperability of 24 different aircraft from different branches or home bases. The 412th Test Wing coordinates with other services and Air Force bases to conduct the event.
“Today we had Orange Flag going on, which is an instrumented test exercise here at Edwards that takes in joint players from the Navy (at Naval Air Weapons Station) China Lake, and all across the country from a variety of players,” Maj. Ben Gilliland, Orange Flag director, 411th Flight Test Squadron, said. “We brought Orange Flag and STARBASE together to get kids interested in science; teach them about teamwork and test and how we have to work together as a team in order to make our experiments happen.”
STARBASE is STEM-based, Department of Defense program that familiarizes elementary students from all backgrounds to the world of science, technology, engineering and mathematics. The program serves students from the base and also other local school districts to support their standards of learning objectives. Students learn about physics, aerodynamics, nanotechnology, robotics, navigation and mapping during their coursework.
Gilliland explained how pilots, such as himself, coordinate and navigate using maps and GPS. Gilliland set up a radio for the students to be able to communicate with a fighter pilot. The students provided the pilot the coordinates for the STARBASE building and the pilots then attempted to hit supersonic speeds above the coordinates.
“We taught the students about coordination, communication and how it’s important to make sure everyone is on the same page; so we looked in the Orange Flag coordination card to see what frequencies everyone would be on,” Gilliland said. “We looked at our own coordinates here at STARBASE and passed those to the airborne fighter. We got a position update from the airborne fighter and as they were flying along, we timed, as they flew over based on communication, when the sonic boom actually hit the ground.”
The lessons that the students learned from the Orange Flag exercise coincided with some of the lessons taught at STARBASE, STARBASE Instructor Madeline Greiner said.
“This really correlated with all that we’ve talked about with flights and how they can go faster than the
speed of sound and to make that sonic boom,” she said. “They also learned about coordinates today which coincides with a “fly on the ceiling” lesson that we do where it’s basically like (the board game) Battleship and they learned about ordered pairs; longitude and latitude.”
Edwards and STARBASE offers a unique possibility for students to be visited by the subject matter experts in the STEM field. Students are able to learn about real-world applications of the coursework they learn in class.
“The students really learn best when they’re working with experts… that are actually in the field,” Greiner said. “They’re talking to them and they’re seeing that ‘maybe this is a field that I want to get into.’”
Maj. Ben Gilliland, Orange Flag director, 411th Flight Test Squadron, assists a STARBASE Edwards student on providing coordinates to an airborne fighter pilot during an Orange Flag exercise at Edwards Air Force Base on Dec. 10.