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7 Things to Do on Your Next Visit to the Aerospace Center for Excellence + Florida Air Museum

Aerospace Center for Excellence Florida Air Museum Lakeland FL

Right here in Central Florida, you’ll find a world-renowned, unique educational campus where students of all ages can engage in hands-on aerospace STEM activities. Fly a drone, see historic planes, learn about space, build a rocket, learn how to fly on a flight simulator, see science on a sphere, and so much more.

Wondering where you can experience these exciting (and educational) activities?

The Aerospace Center for Excellence in Lakeland, FL

The Aerospace Center for Excellence is open to the public and YOU are invited to explore this internationally recognized educational institution – book a field trip, visit the Florida Air Museum, attend a special event, join an aviation club, camp overnight, sign up for a summer camp, and more.

The Aerospace Center for Excellence (ACE) Campus is located in Lakeland, FL on the grounds of the Lakeland Linder International Airport (KLAL). ACE includes the SkyLab Innovation Center, Aerospace Pavilion, the Florida Air Museum, the Central Florida Aerospace Academy (CFAA) High School, The Lakeland Aero Club – a high school flying club, the Piedmont Experience – a Boeing 727 classroom, the Piedmont Hangar, the Tom Davis Education Center, the Buehler Restoration Center, and the Crossfield Discovery Center.

ACE is focused on engaging, educating, and accelerating the next generation of aerospace professionals.

The Aerospace Center for Excellence is a Lakeland Mom Sponsor and we are excited to tell you what they have to offer students and families in our community.

VIDEO: Aerospace Center for Excellence + Florida Air Museum

Things to Do at the Aerospace Center for Excellence

Florida Air Museum

As Florida’s “Official Aviation Museum and Education Center,” the Florida Air Museum features a dynamic display of unique designs, classics, ultra-lights, antiques, and warbirds. More than a collection of airplanes; it stands as a tribute to the history and joy of flight. Exhibits educate about pioneers like Howard Hughes, early air racers, Floridians, and others who have influenced the world of aviation.

There is also a Discovery Zone with a toddler play area and hands-on STEM activities and video games for older children {photos at the bottom}.

The museum is open daily, tickets range from $10-15 and ages 10 and under are free. Visit the Florida Air Museum website for hours and more information.

TIP – Sign up for an Annual Membership and receive great perks! Annual membership includes discounted admission to SUN ‘n FUN, daily admission for one year, and discounts at 200+ science centers and museums through the ASTC Travel Passport Program – including Orlando Science Center, MOSI, Glazer Children’s Museum in Tampa, The Bishop Museum in Bradenton, and others.

Science on a Sphere

Science On a Sphere® (SOS) is exactly what it sounds like – science projected onto a large glowing sphere in the center of a dark room. It is so cool!

Researchers at NOAA developed Science On a Sphere® as an educational tool to help illustrate Earth System science to people of all ages. With hundreds of datasets available you can project any type of science lesson onto the sphere – the solar system, the moon, the sun, weather patterns, and constellations, to name just a few. Having these interactive visuals projected onto a sphere instead of a flat map will bring this information to life for your students.

There are only 175 Science on a Sphere locations worldwide, including this one at the ACE and the Florida Air Museum! (Be sure to request a quick glimpse of the Death Star…)

Weekly Storytime

Join the Florida Air Museum for weekly storytime. Dive into interactive learning experiences that bring stories to life for junior ACEs. Everyone is welcome, though the content is targeted towards our younger aviators, ages 2-5. Held on Tuesdays from 10-11am. (You can also check it out on Facebook and TikTok)

Wings ‘n Things

Wings ‘n Things is an annual event designed for families, scouts, and homeschool groups, typically held on a weekend each fall. You can experience the wonders of aerospace through a full day of free hands-on activities that range from a scavenger hunt with prizes to solar observations in a planetarium to constructing and launching rockets. On-site camping is also available to make it a full weekend of fun. This event is free!

Summer Camps

New in 2023, the Aerospace Center for Excellence will host five different summer camps including:

  • STEMtastic Summer Camp – in-depth explorations, hands-on builds and activities, science experiments, and more centered around flight and STEM (ages 7-10)
  • Destination Aviation Summer Camp – dive deep into flight through experiential learning opportunities, hands-on demonstrations, and flight simulations (ages 11-15)
  • Take Flight Summer Camp – intended for those who are seriously interested in and are considering pursuing their glider license or private pilot’s license (ages 14-17)
  • Future Engineer Summer Camp – design and create projects while discovering underlying engineering principles and processes (ages 14-17)
  • She Can Fly Summer Camp – designed for girls interested in aviation, includes basic flight instruction, aerospace field trips, daily design challenges, and hands-on STEM projects (ages 12-14)

Learn more about 2023 Summer Camps at the Aerospace Center for Excellence.

SUN ‘n FUN

Whether you are a pilot, aviation enthusiast, or just looking for a fun family-friendly event, SUN ‘n FUN has something for everyone. SUN ‘n FUN is the perfect way to introduce children to the world of aviation. You can view more than 4,500 aircraft from homebuilts to warbirds on the 1,000-acre SUN ‘n FUN campus, attend kids workshops, play in the KidZone, and catch special events such as the afternoon Air Shows, Saturday morning hot air balloon launch, nighttime Air Shows Wednesday and Saturday, and MUCH MORE. Held annually in late March / early April in Lakeland. (Lakeland’s internationally known fly-in event is a fundraiser for the Aerospace Center for Excellence and makes all of the other activities listed here possible!)

Field Trips

“Engaging,” “hands-on,” “fascinating,” “fun” are just a few of the words used by students and teachers to describe a field trip to the Aerospace Center for Excellence (ACE). ACE can provide a day of hands-on adventure for students of all ages in the Innovation Skylab and Florida Air Museum. Flight simulators, drone flying lessons, engineering challenges, rocket flying, science on a sphere, a portable planetarium, airplanes, and more are available for engaging STEM programming your students will love. Outreach programs are also available for STEM learning and mobile field trips at your location. Learn more – Adventure is in the Air: Book an Interactive Field Trip with the Aerospace Center for Excellence.

Camping

Sleep under the stars at the SUN ‘n FUN Expo Campus! Several camping opportunities are available on-site, ranging from individual Full Hook-up RV sites and dry tent camping, to group and event camping. Availability varies by season, many special events also have an opportunity to camp on-site. Visit the ACE website for camping information.

Aviation Clubs

Two clubs are available at ACE:
Members of the Unmanned Aerial Squadron, with guidance from adult volunteers and staff, learn to build and fly recreational multirotor drones and promote an understanding of the concepts, uses, and practices of drones.

The Lakeland Aero Club is a flying club that teaches students how to fly and restore antique airplanes. Members of the club can receive hands-on experience in any aspect of aviation they so desire. Membership is available to any High School or College student ages 14-24 interested in aviation.

As you can see – the Aerospace Center for Excellence is a happening place! They are continually expanding their educational programs and opportunities for our community to engage in hands-on STEM activities, from preschoolers starting to explore the world around them, up to adults looking for a new career in the aerospace field.

Make plans today to visit ACE and learn more about this one-of-a-kind aerospace campus in Central Florida.

Discovery Zone at the Florida Air Museum

Learn more:

100+ Things to Do with Kids

Check out our Ultimate List of Things to Do with Kids in Lakeland + Polk County to find indoor fun, outdoor fun, free things to do, seasonal activities, and more.