The Young Astronaut Program of Metropolitan Columbus (YAP) evolved from a demonstration project in 1993 to a program partnered with the Gifted and Talented Program within the Columbus Public Schools. After 12 years serving Columbus Public School students, the program model needed revisions. Previously, the program used a military-based model (instructors and program sites), but security concerns following the attacks of Sept. 11 and changes within the school system led to a hiatus for research and planning to develop a refined model. Central Community House, an exceptional social service agency since 1936, was selected to house the updated program in a community based setting.
A partnership was established with The Ohio State University Center for Aviation Studies to conduct YAP educational sessions at the OSU Airport. Undergraduate and graduate students/pilots serve as instructors. The YAP core instructor staff, the shuttle crew for The Limited, Inc. coordinate curriculum development, provide instruction for select sessions and advice for program operations.
Central Community House is a comprehensive, neighborhood-based community center that has been serving the near east and south sides of Columbus, Ohio. Since 2010, YAP has partnered with the Central Community House to provide unique hands-on STEM education to urban youth at the Center.
Curriculum for weekly sessions, which are held throughout the year, has included instruction in the principles of aviation, robotics, technology, and NASA Kids Club curriculum. Hands-on activities have included sessions focused on: a) rocket construction and launching, b) simulation aviation software, c) radio controlled helicopters, d) LEGO engineering and robotics, and e) construction of tabletop hovercrafts and balsawood airplanes. Teaching staff for YAP programs include corporate pilots, flight line and military aviation officers, and subject matter experts from related fields (e.g. rocketry and meteorology). The Central Community House assists the Young Astronauts Program with supplies, facility, and support staff for class sessions.