Lyman Gilmore Middle School on Wednesday honored its namesake — an aviator, engineer and inventor — by exposing its students to hands-on activities and career opportunities in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics, or STEM, fields.
The school hosted its fourth annual Flight Day, which celebrates the contributions Lyman Wiswell Gilmore Jr., a longtime Grass valley resident, made to 20th century aviation technology.
In addition to building a commercial airfield on what is currently the school’s athletic field, Gilmore claimed to have successfully piloted a steam-powered flight in 1902, more than a year before the Wright brothers were credited with completing the first powered human flight on Dec. 17, 1903 in North Carolina.
However, Gilmore’s claim is unconfirmed; proof of his 1902 flight was apparently destroyed in a fire. Gilmore died in 1951 at the age of 77.
Wednesday’s celebration began with a fly-over of several aircraft, as well as a performance from the school’s band.
“It’s nice to learn stuff about science and all the STEM activities with our bottle rockets and just a bunch of fun games. It’s an experience, so you remember it longer.”— Marley PorterLyman Gilmore seventh-grader
Students then scattered to participate in various activities, from launching handmade bottle rockets to making smoothies with a bicycle-powered blender to learning about nature from members of Nevada Union High School’s Green Academy.
Volunteers from local organizations and law enforcement — including Cal Fire, the Nevada County Sheriff’s Office and the United States Forest Service — were on hand to help students draw connections between what they’re learning in the classroom and future careers.
“They show (students) what they do with science and math and engineering, so the kids can see it in real life and they can see what their options are as they get out of school; and hopefully it gets them a little more excited about being here and their future,” said Jill Massie, a teacher at Lyman Gilmore.
Seventh-grader Marley Porter said being able to learn by doing makes a big impression.
“It’s nice to learn stuff about science and all the STEM activities with our bottle rockets and just a bunch of fun games,” Porter said. “It’s an experience, so you remember it longer.”