DIRECTV Blimp brings an “exciting” opportunity to Castle Park students

November 21, 2014

By Pablo J. Sáinz

From inside the blimp: Ernesto Garcia, Academic Advocate, CVPromise, riding the DirectTV BLIMP with several Castle Park Middle students.

From inside the blimp: Ernesto Garcia, Academic Advocate, CVPromise, riding the DirectTV BLIMP with several Castle Park Middle students.

Isabel Alvarez has never been on an airplane. But the Castle Park Middle School eighth grader had the ride of her life when she flew over San Diego aboard the DIRECTV Blimp.

“I thought it was really cool,” said an excited Isabel, who is 12 years old. “It was a great experience flying on the blimp while learning about science, engineering, and aviation.”

Isabel was part of a group of almost 50 students from the Chula Vista Promise Neighborhood program, which improves the Castle Park area, which includes Castle Park Middle School. More students from Granger Junior High School, in the National City area, also participated in the ride.

The DIRECTV Blimp made its way to Brown Field Municipal Airport in Otay Mesa to provide a unique blimp exploration field trip for these students.

During the trip, the students learned about the history of the DIRECTV Blimp, the science behind what makes it fly, and got a detailed look at the blimp’s components, including its unique 2,100 square foot HD Lightsign.

“At first I was afraid to get on in, but after it took off I started to enjoy the ride,” Isabel said. “I learned a lot about science and math, subjects that I’m sure I’m going to enjoy more at school now.”

Over the next five months the DIRECTV Blimp, a Van Wagner Aerial airship, will be making the rounds of the MLB Playoffs, NFL and NCAA Football circuit, providing a blimp’s-eye view of the top games on the West Coast.

The once-in-a-lifetime blimp field trip that the Castle Park students received served as an opportunity to meet the pilots and crew, and learn about the science, math and engineering that is behind these lighter-than-air ships.

“The DIRECTV blimp has become a staple at sporting events on the East Coast and we know the blimp and its giant HD screen will be a spectacular sight on the West Coast as well,” said Jon Gieselman, senior vice president of marketing for DIRECTV. “DIRECTV and Van Wagner also want to give back to the local community and use the blimp as an educational tool to help children understand how math, science and engineering are applied to air travel.”

The ride is only of the many academic, educational, cultural, and recreational activities, that CV Promise students and their families enjoy throughout the year, according to Patty Chavez, spokesperson for CV Promise.

“Chula Vista Promise Neighborhood in partnership with Castle Park Middle is dedicated to inspiring youth to reach their full potential and aspire to college and career track,” she said. “Opportunities to see and experience science, math and engineering at work is crucial for these young kids.”

For Ernesto Garcia, a CV-Promise Academic Advocate at Castle Park Middle, the trip aboard the DIRECTV Blimp inspired many of his students to develop a greater interest in math and science.

“Some of them were telling me they would like to become engineers,” Garcia said. “It was super exciting for them because they were able to see the subjects they learn in school in action, being applied to real world situations.”

Garcia said that CVPromise students have also participated in engineering field trips to San Diego State University. He added that parents welcome the opportunities their children get to learn more about the world beyond their community.

“Parents are very supportive, because they see their children have access to all these programs that will help them in their academics and in their futures,” Garcia said.

To learn more about the Chula Vista Promise Neighborhood program, please visit www.CVPromise.org.

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