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Chickasaw Nation Aviation and Space Academy Students Fly High

Annual Aviation Academy focuses on learning, fun

ADA, Okla. – When Chickasaw Tres Ring, of Collierville, Tennessee, decided to spend one-week at Chickasaw Nation Aviation and Space Academy he thought he could broaden his horizons.

The 18-year-old had never attended any sort of “science camp” and hoped it would provide an opportunity to explore career and life opportunities.

“I decided to apply for CNASA because I thought it may help me decide a college major, he said while taking a break launching rockets at the academy’s culmination Friday, June 14.

Tres was right.

Tres was one of 38 students who participated in the 11th annual space and aviation academy. Students, ages 10-18, worked on several “hands-on” activities throughout the week including designing airplane wings, building rockets, and maneuvering quad copters.

While in the midst of these hands-on activities, students learn the basics of aerodynamics and some math and physics.

Sparking an interest in space and aviation careers while exploring different opportunities is an objective of CNASA, Chickasaw Nation Education Executive Officer Danny Wells said.

“CNASA is important – it creates an interest in science, technology and math as a career. We introduce students to careers in aviation, space and flight.”

Tres learned about a new possible vocation: air traffic controller.

“We learned about air traffic controllers - I didn’t even know what that was before this academy. CNASA is a great way to learn about different career fields.”

When asked if he learned any concepts at CNASA he can use in the future he chuckled, “I learned how a wing works, how an airplane files.”

Tres plans to apply to the U.S. Naval Academy and Vanderbilt University after high school graduation.

Learning Through Fun

Hands-on activities, including building and testing rockets, can lead to problem solving.

The last day of CNASA, students took turn testing rockets they built from a kit.

Some soared very high, some made modest streaks across the sky and some didn’t fly at all.

Students would diagnose any problems, tweak the rocket and try to fly it again.

“It’s learning process throughout, and if it doesn’t work, you have to try something new,” said Mr. Wells.

“Fun, hands-on activities create an interest in science can encourage students to pursue an engineering degree.”

CNASA also offered plenty of thrills, especially when the students flew in an aircraft at Tulsa’s Riverside Airport. A few students were even able to pilot the plane, including Andrea Underwood, 11, of Ada.

“The pilot let us fly the plane and it was really cool.”

Mr. Wells said he hopes students return to school next term with a new view on school subjects which may not have interested them prior to attending the academy.


Open to Chickasaw students, CNASA is packed with fun and educational activities which incorporate science and math into the curriculum.

Chickasaw Nation Gov. Bill Anoatubby said the academy was developed to encourage young people to consider careers in science, mathematics and technology.

“Some students who attended CNASA in the past are now pursuing education and careers in science and technology fields. We believe this academy, along with FIRST robotics and other programs is helping students expand their horizons,” said Gov. Anoatubby.

Students from all around the state and Nation attend the camp.

The CNASA program was established in 2003 and takes place each June. The academy is open to Chickasaw students grades five through 12.

For more information about CNASA, call (580) 421-7711 or visit


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