Local camp actually lets kids fly planes -- seriously

Published: Friday, April 14, 2017 @ 6:00 AM

Students design F-14 models at Air Camp.
Students design F-14 models at Air Camp.(Contributed)

There are a multitude of summer camps to which you can send your kids this year where they could learn plenty. But there’s only one in the Dayton area that will let them actually fly a real plane.

Launched in 2010, the Dayton-based Air Camp offers seventh through ninth grade students a comprehensive STEM education using aviation and aerospace as the medium. The program also focuses on the values of scholarship, leadership and citizenship. The program draws students from all over the country every year.

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“(The founders) wanted to create an opportunity for students across the country to engage actively in STEM activities that are primarily connected to aviation and aeronautics,” said Director of Operations Shannon Coblentz. “They noticed from their line of work that there started to be a shortage in those areas. They believed that it was not necessarily a lack of interest or capability, but lack of knowledge that these opportunities exist.”

Air Camp will feature a day camp program for the first time.(Contributed)

The week-long camp hopes to catch middle school-aged students at a time period where studies show they tend to steer away from STEM-related subjects. Coblentz, a former principal, says confusion is often behind those decisions.

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“It’s usually based on misinformation about what’s required in the STEM fields, as well as sometimes having a lack of understanding of what an actual STEM profession is. We can help them to gain confidence to serve in the STEM fields and that can pique their interest in those fields.”

Air Camp Director of Operations Shannon Coblentz says the camp's goal is to give students more confidence in STEM fields.(Contributed)

Air Camp, made up entirely of teachers with STEM backgrounds, provides students with 15 hours of team-oriented educational activities daily, while taking them to various locations around the Dayton area. Throughout the week, the students are taught STEM concepts, and then tasked with using critical thinking skills they’ve obtained to solve problems or achieve goals. Team challenges include a simulated plane crash where campers are taught survival skills as well as using items commonly found on a plane to recover a black box from under water. 

“What they do is go through the actual rescue module to help save passengers if they ever ended up in the water. They are trained to save themselves first and the other passengers second,” Coblentz said.

And, yes, after taking flight ground school and charting their course, the campers will get the opportunity to fly as student pilots.

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However, Air Camp is now also offering a less-intensive program for younger students for the very first time. The day camp, designed for fourth through sixth grades, focuses partly on aviation, but also covers engineering, rocketry, botany, robotics, art and more. Like its counterpart, the day camp will take the students to various sites around the Miami Valley. 

The program is designed to take the intimidation out of learning about the STEM field. 

“We will help them to understand that a butterfly in particular has to overcome the same forces to fly that an airplane does. We know that will help them feel more comfortable about the physics of flight,” Coblentz explained.

Though the day camp students won’t get to fly an actual airplane, they will learn to code and fly their own unmanned aerial vehicle. 

The application process for middle school students includes an essay of 300 words or less and a teacher’s letter of recommendation. Day camp students are admitted on a first-come-first-served basis.

Coblentz believes both camps are vital to how students approach STEM subjects and in showing them the long-term possibilities therein.

“We want to make sure they know that whatever they’re passionate about at this age, they can find a way to make a living at that as an adult,” she said.  

“Most importantly, we’ll teach them how to use data, and emphasize for both camps that the wrong answer is not a problem. Knowing what to do with the wrong answer is the critical skill.” 

Learn more about Air Camp at aircampusa.com. Air Camp is accepting applications through April 30. Basic requirements for application, including the application portal itself, can be found here


Hanukkah 2017: 8 things you probably didn't know about Hanukkah

Published: Tuesday, December 12, 2017 @ 4:01 PM
Updated: Tuesday, December 12, 2017 @ 4:01 PM

Here are some interesting things you probably didn't know about Hanukkah The Hebrew word is "חֲנֻכָּה" The word Hanukkah translates to "dedication" Hanukkah celebrates how they reclaimed their temple in Jerusalem and rededicated it to the God of Jewish tradition The books of Maccabees are the ones that describe the retaking of the holy land The game of dreidel was inspired an Irish one The next "Thanksgivukkah" is only 53 years away

If everything you know about Hanukkah comes from an Adam Sandler song, you are not alone.

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There are a many Americans out there whose only real knowledge on the subject is that Hanukkah, which will be celebrated between the evening of Dec. 12 to evening of Dec. 2, is a festival of lights and that, instead of one day of presents, the Jewish community gets the joy of eight nights of gifts.

There's much more to know about Hanukkah than that, though.

Here are some interesting things you probably didn't know about Hanukkah:

1. How to spell it

If, when the subject of Hanukkah comes up, you become nervous and uncertain because you don't know whether to go with H-A-N-U-K-K-A-H or C-H-A-N-U-K-A-H or whether it's two K's or one. Here’s the deal: you probably aren't wrong. The Hebrew word is "חֲנֻכָּה" and when people transliterate that word into something English, they sometimes go with C-H and sometimes go with just an H, both of which are approximate the guttural "kh" sound that starts the Hebrew word. So, if you like keeping things easy, start with the H. 

2. What did we just spell?

The word Hanukkah, by the way, translates to "dedication."

3. What the dedication was all about

A brief history lesson: In 164 BC, the land Jewish people consider "the Holy Land" was ruled by a group that today would comprise parts of Syria and Greece. They wanted the people of Israel to assimilate, but a small band of Jews (led by a fellow named Judah the Maccabee) won a battle, reclaimed their temple in Jerusalem and rededicated it to the God of Jewish tradition.

4. Why, if it's about temple dedications, are there ‘eight crazy nights,’ as Sandler puts it?

Because, as legend has it, when the temple dedication team went to light the temple's menorah, they found only enough olive oil to last one day. Miraculously, that supply lasted eight whole days. And thus, Hanukkah was born.

5. Is it really about the oil lasting eight nights? 

Maybe not. Other Jewish texts suggest that it wasn't the oil burning for eight days, but rather a delay in regularly scheduled programming that brought about the modern eight-day Hanukkah tradition. Because the Jewish people of Israel were still in caves fighting during September 164 BC, they didn't get to celebrate the eight-day-long holiday of Sukkot. The event was postponed until after the Jewish guerrillas won back Jerusalem and reclaimed the temple. Then, the event was back on, and thus Hanukkah was born.

6. The books that describe all of these events aren't in the Hebrew bible.

The books of Maccabees are the ones that describe the retaking of the holy land. And they aren't even in the traditional Hebrew bible. But they are in the Catholic bible. So, there's that.

Right to left, Alex Brown, 11, Gabriel Brown, 11 and Eli Cox, 9, play the dreidel game, a traditional Hanukkah game, at the Dreidel Tournament held at Recycled Reads in 2013.(Erika Rich)

7. The game of dreidel was inspired by Irish game.

Besides the menorah, nothing is associated with the holiday traditions of Hanukkah quite like the dreidel. But few realize that the game itself comes from Ireland. Originally, the four-sided tops were painted with Latin words. The game dates to an era before the Roman empire. As the empire's trade routes expanded, the game spread across Europe and eventually became synonymous with Jewish culture.

8. The next "Thanksgivukkah" (sort of), is only 53 years away.

For those who don't know better, Hanukkah can seem like a Jewish Christmas. But it isn't that at all. Nor, despite its proximity in dates to western holidays, is it some kind of post-Thanksgiving buffer holiday. In fact, Hanukkah moves around. The Jewish calendar relies on lunar months of either 29 or 30 days. But the rest of the world goes on the Gregorian calendar. As a result, Hannukah's start date can fall anywhere between November 27 and December 26 in any given year. The next time we see a Thanksgivukkah? 53 years. The next Christmukkah? 2027.

Bonus burning fact

There is a height limit for menorahs: 20 cubits, and not a cubit more.


Dayton’s very own live version of ‘A Christmas Story’ is happening now

Published: Tuesday, December 12, 2017 @ 3:45 PM

A group of young actors from the Miami Valley will perform in “A Christmas Story” at the Victoria Theatre. The show is presented by the VTA and produced by The Human Race Theatre Company. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO BY RON VALLE
Staff Writer
A group of young actors from the Miami Valley will perform in “A Christmas Story” at the Victoria Theatre. The show is presented by the VTA and produced by The Human Race Theatre Company. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO BY RON VALLE(Staff Writer)

Eric David Pettit can definitely relate to Ralphie Parker’s 9-year-old dream of unwrapping a Red Ryder BB gun on Christmas morning. In Eric’s case, the coveted gift was a Playstation 3. This year, he confides, he’s hoping to find a ukulele under the tree.

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Eric, a seventh-grader at Miamisburg Middle School, will appear as young Ralph in the upcoming production of “A Christmas Story” at the Victoria Theatre Dec 12-17. The comedy is being presented by the Victoria Theatre Association as a Star Attraction and is being produced by the Human Race Theatre Company.

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Eric says he can identify with his lovable character in a number of

Who can forget this iconic scene from “A Christmas Story?” The live comedy will be on stage at the Victoria Theatre. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO BY RON VALLE(Staff Writer)

other ways as well. “Everything is life and death with Ralphie, and I can relate to that, too,” he says. He can also connect with the Parker family. “My dad works, my mom holds the house down, and I can relate to being the annoying younger brother,” admits Eric, who portrayed Ralphie’s younger brother, Randy, in the musical version of the play at La Comedia Dinner Theatre in 2015.

The hilarious and touching comedy, based on the Jean Shepherd memoir of growing up in Cleveland in the 1940s, became a film classic when it premiered in 1983. Who can forget the temperamental furnace, the Scut Farcus affair, the leg lamp and the “double dog dare ya” with the school flagpole?

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“A Christmas Story” is based author Jean Shepherd’s collection of short stories. Pictured: Flick’s triple-dog-dare-ya. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO BY RON VALLE(Staff Writer)

Eric says his lifelong love for make-believe and pretending naturally segued into acting. “I like being different people,” says the 13-year-old, who has already established quite a resume. You may have seen him as Winthrop in Wright State’s University’s production of “The Music Man.” Other favorite roles have ranged from the White Rabbit in “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland” to Jack in “Into the Woods, Jr.

Every year at holiday time, Eric says he looks forward to watching a “A Christmas Story” on television. “It’s such a feel-good show, everything works out and everyone is happy at the end,” he says.

He also enjoys the interaction with his older Ralph self who appears as the narrator in the memory play. “There’s a scene where the adult Ralph dresses like a cowboy and I get to talk to him and that’s cool!” says Eric.

Older Ralph will be played by Greg Mallios of Cincinnati, who has been in other plays at the Human Race and has also appeared in theatrical productions throughout our area as well as in shows in New York.

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What: “A Christmas Story,” a Projects Unlimited Star Attraction presented by the Victoria Theatre Association and produced by the Human Race Theatre Company.  

When: Tuesday, Dec. 12, through Sunday, Dec. 17. Performances are at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday through Friday and 2 and 7:30 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday.  

Where: Victoria Theatre, 138 N. Main St., Dayton  

Tickets: Prices range from $30 to $60. Purchase online at www.TicketCenterStage.com, at the Box Office, or call (937) 228-3630 or 888-228-3630. Group, military and student discounts available.  For information: www.victoriatheatre.com

Solstice Gala celebrates darkest night with immersive art experience

Published: Friday, December 08, 2017 @ 6:00 AM

The first Solstice Gala was held in 2016. This year's Solstice Gala will be held Thursday, Dec. 21, 2017 at Catapult Creative in downtown Dayton. PHOTO / Morgan Bush, Catapult Creative
The first Solstice Gala was held in 2016. This year's Solstice Gala will be held Thursday, Dec. 21, 2017 at Catapult Creative in downtown Dayton. PHOTO / Morgan Bush, Catapult Creative

Winter solstice is upon us. Known as the “longest night of the year,” it will fall on Thursday, Dec. 21, 2017. 

To celebrate, Catapult Creative and Bloom Creative Collective have partnered to host Solstice Gala 2 at 7 p.m. on Dec. 21. 

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The event is an immersive art experience featuring soundscapes by KHONSHU, spoken word and art installations. Bloom will provide tarot readings.  

Proceeds from the ticket sales will go towards funding a Dayton Inspires video game-themed mural in 2018.

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Here’s part of the description from Eventbrite:

The event is a fully immersive experience. A veritable artistic landscape, elements from music and spoken word to art and aesthetic have been carefully selected to reflect the consistent patterns and rhythms of the ever-changing world around us. Our desire is to create a space of comfortable reflection and necessary separation from the fast-paced world surrounding it. Beyond that, we love any excuse to throw a good party.

There will be limited quantities of Solstice-themed cocktails, beer and wine available. 

The first Solstice Gala was held in 2016. This year's Solstice Gala will be held Thursday, Dec. 21, 2017 at Catapult Creative in downtown Dayton. PHOTO / Morgan Bush, Catapult Creative

The event takes place at Catapult Creative, 10 N. Ludlow Street. Guests are asked to enter through the Courthouse Square side (there is a Dayton Inspires mural on the door). 

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Tickets are $15 and are required for entry. All proceeds will go toward funding a Dayton Inspires mural in 2018. Cost includes drinks and a limited edition Solstice Gala poster. Ages 21 and up only.  

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Want to go?

WHAT: Solstice Gala 2

WHEN: 7 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 21, 2017

WHERE: Catapult Creative, 10 N. Ludlow St., Dayton. Enter through Courthouse Square side.

COST: $15/ticket (all proceeds go to fund a Dayton Inspires mural project)

INFO: Eventbrite tickets | Facebook event

JUST ANNOUNCED: Country rock revival tour with Travis Tritt, Charlie Daniels band, more headed to town

Published: Monday, December 11, 2017 @ 8:00 AM

The Southern Uprising Tour, a southern rock revival starring Travis Tritt, Charlie Daniels Band, The Marshall Tucker Band and the Outlaws, is headed to town.

The tour will make a stop at Fraze Pavilion in Kettering on Saturday, July 28, 2018, the music venue just announced. The show will begin at 5 p.m.

Tickets will range from $40-$65 and will go on sale at 10 a.m. on Saturday, Dec. 16.

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The Charlie Daniels Band along with The Marshall Tucker Band will perform Saturday at the Pompano Beach Amphitheater. Larry Busacca / Getty Images


Tickets can be purchased online at www.fraze.com or www.etix.com or by phone at 1-800-514-3849.

Tickets also can be purchased at the Fraze FanFare Store  located inside Town & Country Shopping Center, 424 E. Stroop Road, Kettering. It is open Monday to Friday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., Saturday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Sunday from noon to 5 p.m. 

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