Every child needs their own space, a place to play and create. Brian, 11, and Sean Bartelo, 9, are gifted, something their mother Diane noticed early on.
“When he was doing algebra at three, Brian, I thought I had to do something different,” said Diane Ward Bartelo, their mother. “I taught at UB, so I recognized he had a really high IQ. I don’t want to hold him back.”
In consultation with her local school district, Diane designed the program, which was approved by New York State. Sean followed in his brother’s footsteps.
Brian is already taking online pre-calculus classes at a local college, and Sean has a knack for learning software that brings his imagination to life.
And since these two love a challenge, they entered the FAA’s STEM International Airport Design Competition for the second year in a row. Through the game Minecraft, they teamed up with another West Virginia homeschooler to map, build to scale, and re-imagine West Virginia’s Yeager International Airport. As none of them had been there, they improvised with images from Google Earth, a measuring tool and an important ecological innovation.
A new ventilation system to stop harmful pathogens, electric car charging stations and an extra lane in front of the terminal to improve circulation have also been added. After two months of work, the FAA announced the winners during an online awards ceremony.
“When they announced second place, and it wasn’t us, and we heard we were in the top three, that’s when we got really excited,” Sean said.
As you guessed, the MountainAirs took first place. And just weeks after their victory, the boys look to the future, literally reaching for the stars. Sean wants to be an aerospace engineer and Brian a space lawyer.
Lofty goals that seem appropriate for kids encouraged to dream big.
“Just their passion for learning and the fact that they want to do something good for the world, it’s really amazing,” added his mother Diana.