Science Innovation Hall of Fame Awards (SIHOF)

Join us for the 9th Annual 

Science Innovation Hall of Fame Awards!

Saturday, April 16, 2022 | Doors open at 6pm

Each year, the Air Zoo, the Michigan Aviation Hall of Fame, and a presenting sponsor bring to Southwest Michigan an evening of community and fun as we honor the past, celebrate the present, and inspire what will be! Join us as we announce and honor the 2022 Class of Inductees into the Michigan Aviation Hall of Fame and award some of Southewest Michigan's most passionate and innovative K-12 STEAM focused educators, industry leaders and area highschool students who have innovated and excelled within, or shown exceptional support of education in the areas of science, technology, engineering, art, and mathematics (STEAM).

We invite YOU to be a part of this amazing event!

Please call Keith Crowell at 269.350.2812 contact us at with questions. 


 Michigan Aviation Hall of Fame

What is the Michigan Aviation Hall of Fame enshrinement? 

The Michigan Aviation Hall of Fame was established in 1987 to recognize men and women who have made significant contributions to aviation. Each year, the Air Zoo is proud to induct a new class of enshrines, who take their place in the Hall of Fame exhibit located inside the Air Zoo. Learn more at  


For questions about nominating someone for the Michigan Aviation Hall of Fame, email Christy Kincaid or call 269.350.2819 today.  2023 Nominations due October 31, 2022.

Science Innovation Hall of Fame

What are the Science Innovation Hall of Fame Awards all about?

Air Zoo Science Innovation Hall of Fame Award TrophiesCombined with the Michigan Aviation Hall of Fame, this festive and interactive event recognizes West Michigan high school students, K-12 level educators, and local organizations and individuals who have innovated and excelled within, or shown exceptional support of, education in the areas of science, technology, engineering, art, and mathematics (STEAM). In order to remain competitive in today’s global economy, it is critical for our youth to excel in these vital disciplines. With over ninety innovative educational programs, including classes, camps, field trips, and off-site outreach, the Air Zoo is spearheading STEAM initiatives in our region and highlighting local careers available in these important fields. Our hope is that the Science Innovation Hall of Fame Awards play a major role in encouraging local students and educators to embrace STEAM education, ultimately helping to ensure a thriving local economy for years to come.  

All SIHOF award recipients receive a cash scholarship.  

Award Descriptions:

 Student Excellence Award - $500 Financial Award

The Student Excellence Award honors high school students who excel in the studies of science while also seeking to expand their knowledge and leadership skills outside of the classroom.

Student Art & Science Award - $500 Financial Award

The Student Art & Science Award recognizes a high school student who exemplifies the special harmony between arts and sciences.

Educator Excellence Award - $750 Financial Award

The Educator Excellence Award recognizes excellence and innovation in the teaching of STEAM subjects, the fostering of deep and meaningful student learning, and generation of exceptional student achievement.

Application and Deadlines: The 2022 Student and Educator Award applications are due by Monday, February 16, 2022.  Download an Application.  

The event is scheduled for Saturday, April 16, 2022 - so mark your calendars!

Congratulations 2021 Awardees!

The Air Zoo, and the 2021 Presenting Sponsor, Schupan, proudly hosted the 8th annual Science Innovation Hall of Fame Awards (SIHOF) October 9, 2021!  Combined with the Michigan Aviation Hall of Fame (MAHOF), on Saturday, October 9th.  Among the awardees were 6 Michigan Aviation Hall of Fame Inductees, two Southwest Michigan K-12 STEAM focused educators and 4 area highschool students.

Please take a moment to acknowledge and congrtulate our 2021 MAHOF Inductees and SIHOF Awardees listed below!

Congratulations 2021

Michigan Aviation Hall of Fame Inductees

Lawrence “Larry” Bush - U.S. Army Vietnam Veteran, Helicopter Pilot (1947)

Lawrence “Larry” Orie Bush was born on November 3rd, 1947 in Muskegon, Michigan. Larry graduated from Reeths-Puffer High School in 1966 and attended the Illinois Institute of Technology on a Navy ROTC scholarship. After two years of study, Larry left college and enlisted in the United States Army. He entered the Army Warrant Officer Candidate program in 1969. In August of 1970, Larry graduated from flight school near the top of his class and was appointed a Warrant Office and Army Aviator.

Larry qualified in the UH-1 “Huey” helicopter, but due to his class ranking, was selected for additional training in the OH-58 “Kiowa” light observation helicopter.

Larry received orders for assignment to the Republic of Vietnam and arrived “in country” in the fall of 1970 then was transferred to Laos where he participated in Lam Son 719. Larry accumulated 1,040 combat flight hours in Vietnam and was awarded the Vietnam Service Medal, Vietnam Campaign Medal, Army Commendation Medal, the Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry with Palm, and Air Medal with Oak Leaf Cluster.

Larry joined the Michigan Army National Guard and flew UH-1 “Huey” and OH-58 “Kiowa” scout aircraft for the next 20 years. While an Army Aviator, Larry logged 3,534 hours of accident and incident free pilot time and retired in 1993 as a Chief Warrant Officer 4 and a Master Army Aviator.

For his service to our nation and for his dedication and contributions to US Army Aviation, Lawrence O. Bush is inducted into the Michigan Aviation Hall of Fame on October 9, 2021.

Katherine L. Chamberlain - Pilot (1923-2009)

Katherine (Kay) Chamberlain was born in Claire, Michigan on May 23rd, 1923, and earned her pilot’s license on Friday, February 13th, 1970. Since that time, she became one of the most prominent woman pilots in Michigan aviation.

Kay was the first woman appointed to the Michigan Aeronautics Commission, serving as Commissioner, and was re-appointed for a second term, also serving as Chairperson twice. Kay has over 2,000 hours of flying time, most of that time spent flying to many of Michigan’s airports promoting general aviation and the development of those airports.

Kay participated in one Powder Puff Derby Race, twelve Michigan Air Races, and five Illinois Air Races. She has received three State of Michigan certificates for her contributions to aviation. Kay served as an FAA Safety Counselor and was certified in Private Single Engine Land and Sea, Commercial Single Engine Land and Sea, and Glider. Kay was a member of The Ninety-Nines, was owner of Land and Lake Aviation, was an organizer and participant of the 1979 Michigan Air Tour and served a volunteer pilot for World Medical Relief.

Kay passed away in 2009.

For her dedication and contributions to general aviation in Michigan and for pioneering women’s roles in the aviation industry, Katherine Chamberlain is inducted into the Michigan Aviation Hall of Fame on October 9, 2021.

Captain Ralph H. Fletcher - USN, Ret., WWII Navy Pilot, FAA (1911-

Born in 1911, Ralph Fletcher grew up in Portage, MI, and attended Western State Teachers College (now Western Michigan University) in Kalamazoo.

Eventually graduating in 1932 from the Milwaukee School of Engineering with a BS degree in electrical engineering, Fletcher joined the United States Navy in 1937, earned his wings in December of 1938, and served as a carrier pilot assigned to patrol the Pacific Ocean aboard the U.S.S. Saratoga from 1938-39.

Reassigned to Scouting Squadron 72 flying from the U.S.S. Wasp, he participated in Atlantic operations until January 1942. At the onset of WWII, then-Lieutenant Fletcher was reassigned to the U.S. Naval Air Station in Miami, FL as a fighter and dive-bomber instructor, and later served as the Commanding Officer of the Air Station’s Night Flying Division. Deployed to the Pacific in 1944 as the Aviation Officer for Amphibious Group 12 (and later the 5th Amphibious Force), Fletcher saw combat throughout the Central and Western Pacific and over Japan. Retiring from active duty in 1946, he served in the Naval Reserves until 1951, and retired at the rank of Captain.

As a civilian, Ralph Fletcher briefly served as Senior Test Engineer for the Sikorsky Division of the United Aircraft Corporation and was then employed by the Civil Aeronautics Administration (now the Federal Aviation Administration), Washington, DC, in multiple capacities from 1946 to 1972, where he eventually retired as Chief, Designation & Documentation of the Airspace Utilization Division, Air Traffic Service.

For his service to our nation and for his dedication and contributions to aviation, Captain Ralph H. Fletcher is inducted into the Michigan Aviation Hall of Fame on October 9, 2021.

Cody Welch - Commercial Pilot (1951)

Born on August 5th, 1951, Cody’s interest in aviation came from his father, a World War II pilot, Commuter Airline and FBO Owner, and FAA Designated Pilot Examiner. When Cody earned his private license at age 17, his father was his examiner.

Cody Welch earned his commercial and instrument rating on his 18th birthday. He later earned his flight instructor ratings and aircraft and power plant mechanic’s license. Cody retired as pilot and flight instructor for Northwest Airlines after 23 years and has amassed 38,000 hours flown, having flown 400 types of airplanes. In 2017, Cody received the Wright Brothers Master Pilot Award, having flown more than 50 years accident free. Cody volunteered to fly the EAA’s Ford Trimotors throughout the continental United States with 50,000 passengers flown on more than 7,500 flights. He served 3 terms on the EAA Board of Directors, served on EAA’s Safety Committee, was Chair of the EAA’s Chapter and Young Eagles Board Committee, and Chair of the EAA’s Ford Trimotor ride program. Cody received the EAA President’s Award and Volunteer of the Year honors in 2003.

In 1975, Cody founded Seaco Airlines with service from Alpena to Oscoda, Cadillac, and Chicago.

In 1995, Cody founded Wings of Mercy East Michigan where he, and other pilots, volunteer their time to fly patients to medical centers for treatment. Cody currently serves as Chief Pilot on Yankee Air Museum’s Ford Trimotor in Ypsilanti. Cody has led efforts to save two endangered airports from permanent closure: Linden Price Airport, where he has served as Airport Manager since 2000, and Midland Barstow.

For his dedication and contributions to general aviation in Michigan and across the country, and for his tireless support and advocacy of aviation, Cody Welch is inducted into the Michigan Aviation Hall of Fame on October 9, 2021.

Virgil Williams - Private Pilot, Airport Manager

Flying has been Virgil’s passion all his life. He started his aviation journey sweeping hangar floors to earn enough money to pay for flight instruction and pursued every aviation job and opportunity available.

At the 1953 National Intercollegiate Flying Association, Virgil placed 1st and 2nd in numerous events and was awarded the trophy for Outstanding Male Pilot. 

He joined Sinclair Oil Corporation as a corporate pilot in 1955 and then, in 1959, he joined the Upjohn Company as Chief Pilot and Director of Aviation. Virgil was instrumental in moving Upjohn aviation into the jet age. When Upjohn began an internship program with WMU Aviation in the 1970s, Virgil served on the Citation Advisory Board. From 1986 to 1994, he served on the National Business Aviation Association Board of Directors. During his 35 years with Upjohn, Virgil flew over 23,000 hours, visited all 50 states, and circled the Earth. 

After retirement, Virgil was a captain for Jack Nicklaus and Julio and Enrique Iglesias and helped form the Michigan Business Aviation Association in 1998. For 18 years, Virgil has volunteered his time as the Airport Manager of the Plainwell Municipal Airport and has spearheaded several efforts to meet FAA regulations and enhancements that increase the safety. Virgil is also a co-founder of the Plainwell Aviation and STEM Academy.

In 2005, Virgil was awarded the Wright Brothers Master Pilot Award in recognition of 50 years of safe flying. In 2008, the Virgil and Maurine Williams Family Aviation Endowed Scholarship was established a the WMU College of Aviation. In 2019, Virgil was inducted into Western Michigan University’s College of Aviation Hall of Honor. 

For his dedication and contributions to aviation, and for his enduring legacy as one of Michigan’s most distinguished pilots, Virgil Williams is inducted into the Michigan Aviation Hall of Fame on October 9, 2021.

Frederick Zinn - Combat Photographer (1892-1960)

Frederick Zinn was born in Galesburg, Michigan on February 4th, 1892. Zinn graduated from the University of Michigan in 1914 with a bachelor’s degree in Civil Engineering, after which he decided to travel the world.

Zinn enlisted in the French Foreign Legion on August 24th, 1914, as one of the first 42 American volunteers. Zinn carried his camera with him to the trenches. While war correspondents and photographers were not permitted near the front, Zinn was a soldier with a camera and was able to take and sell numerous Frontline photographs.

During the Champagne campaign in October of 1915, Zinn was wounded by a shell fragment. After his release from the hospital in 1916, Zinn transferred to the French Air Service as a bombardier-gunner, then reassigned to reconnaissance. On October 12th, 1917, Sergeant Zinn left the French Air Service to transition to the US Army Air Service, as a Lafayette Flying Corps, becoming the first American Aviation Combat Photographer. Zinn was awarded the Croix de Guerre with palm and star and two citations.

As a Captain, Zinn handled all American airmen assigned to the Front. After the war, Zinn wanted to find and bring home the remains of missing airmen. Over the next six months, he helped locate and identify the remains of 70 of the 150 American fliers. During World War II, Zinn created the Missing Air Crew Report System, used to recover the remains of hundreds of airmen during World War II and is still in use today.

After the war, Zinn served time in the Reserves, rising to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel, and founded the Wolverine Management Company. In 1954 he was elected to the Michigan State legislature. When Zinn died in 1960, the Lafayette Escadrille staged its First Reunion Air Show at Kellogg Regional Airfield in his honor.

For his service to our nation, his dedication, and contributions to aerial combat photography, and for pioneering efforts to search for American pilots missing in action, Frederick Zinn is inducted into the Michigan Aviation Hall of Fame on October 9, 2021.

Congratulation 2021

Science Innovation Hall of Fame Awardees

Scott Hanson | Battle Creek Area Mathematics & Science Center | 10th-12th Grade Teacher

When I was growing up, my father’s workshop was a place of wonder.  All broken items would go into the workshop, and then they would slowly matriculate out and back into the house.  When I was old enough, I started entering the workshop with him to work side-by-side fixing the broken items from the house.  We would brainstorm, explore, experiment, and work the problem in a variety of ways until we hit the end goal of a fixed item.  That is the same kind of process and inspiration that I want to provide for my students to teach them how to look at the world in a way that allows them to work problems from a variety of directions until solutions have been found. 

Being one hundred percent virtual for the year, many of the instructional strategies that I incorporate for student understanding had to be modified to fit the format or reimagined all together.  The main thing I did not want to sacrifice was my belief that science doesn’t happen in an individual bubble, it is a collaborative process between peers that builds upon knowledge based on evidence and experience.  I have instituted multiple approaches to accomplish this.  I have worked closely with my teaching cohort to create a YouTube video library of relevant demonstrations accompanied by viewing guides that the students utilize to prepare themselves for a collaborative experience in class. I have defined roles that students use in breakout rooms to increase discussion and accountability, and have even adopted the use of multiple iPads so that I can interact with each breakout room to address misconceptions or questions that arise, like in a non-virtual classroom experience.

The process of applying for, winning, and coaching the Leeson-MIT InvenTeam was probably the most humbling experience that I have ever been through. It allowed me to view the problem the student is trying to resolve from a different perspective and improve the way that I teach the students about engineering design. I have helped more students in the years that followed to create invention prototypes, sometimes mentoring eleven different Conrad Spirit of Innovation projects simultaneously. Having opportunities like that allows me to inspire students to continue into careers where they can invent solutions to problems that don’t even exist yet. 

Derek Stoneman | Godwin Heights High School | 9th Grade Teacher

Our unit on evolution is called Why don’t antibiotics work like they used to? The first lesson starts with a video of a little girl that out of nowhere gets sick and keeps getting worse. Students watched a video and recorded their observations and questions that they wanted answered. Students began to draw models of their initial ideas as to why they think this happens. The questions created by all students were then put on a driving question board for the class. After each lesson, students discussed what questions have been answered and decided which question to answer next using our driving question board. 

This unit was set up so students are doing exactly what scientists do. Besides asking questions and making models, they also used simulations, scientific readings and text. Students felt like scientists in the classroom and understood the reason behind what they are doing each day. Being a scientist is so much more than labs, and students are right there answering the questions they previously asked. 

Students are driving the class each day by having structured talk time designed to have all students share and discuss ideas. STEM teaching tools have been incredibly helpful by providing tools such as the discussion diamond, four corners, take a stand, etc. to give students the opportunity to voice their ideas. We use partner talk protocols where students have stems to share out their ideas and also to respond to their peer’s response. Student discussion is the driving force of each lesson and is why this unit is so engaging for the students.

I have always believed that science is one of the most crucial parts of society. It has advanced society every step of the way, yet there is still skepticism with it amongst the average person. For science to truly have the most impact every person needs to feel like they are scientists. That includes students and that is what I strive to do. 

Tyler Bowers | Portage Northern High School & International Baccalaureate

Ever since the young age of ten I have been making and disassembling electronics. Of course, at the time I never actually knew what all of the components were, I was just fascinated by the functionality of such small parts. 
I have been building engineering skills with 3D printers and laser engravers that I have made. I built my first 3D-printer in 2016 with components from computer drives and I was fascinated ever since. 
I have also got into building circuits using my soldering iron and oscilloscope. I finished my IB Extended Essay which involves designing my own high-power ultrasonic driver circuit, Peltier cooling system, and Schlieren imaging setup. I measured the speed of sound as affected by temperature. I also used these skills in my IB Biology IA to design an amplifier to read the signals of trigger hair stimulations Dionaea muscipula (Venus Fly Traps).
Entering middle school, I found myself yearning for a club or activity that would allow me to use my engineering skills. I found the Kalamazoo Robotics First Lego League team which joined and helped in building the robot. During the season we received many awards and made it to the state championship several times. After this, I moved up to the VEX team where I continued to lead the FLL team by becoming a mentor, in which I taught the principles of robot design. In VEX, I was yet again the lead designer of the robot.
Science has given me, a student, access to amazing components and technologies that would have never been possible. I built an electronics lab with 3D printers, oscilloscopes, frequency generators, psus, and thousands of components just because I have a passion for learning electronic and engineering sciences. Studying science both inside and outside of school has given me an appreciation for everything humans have made. It is amazing and somewhat scary that there is still so much more to be discovered.

Alyssa Park | Portage Central High School & Kalamazoo Area Mathematics & Science Center

I most appreciate how science allows us to make sense of the seemingly unknowable complexities of the universe. I vividly remember the day I first looked at my refrigerator and realized that someone had invented every single piece of technology that I took for granted, and that I had no idea how it worked. This realization sent me into a googling frenzy of coolants and condenser coils. This internal drive and curiosity has pushed me to continue seeking scientific answers through individual and academic settings, as well as led me to help ignite in others this same interest in scientific discovery. 
I find myself extremely lucky to have had the opportunity to express my passion for science through my participation in the KAMSC research team. My group project, “Perception and Accuracy of GMO Labels on the Southwest Michigan Area,” marked the first time I understood each aspect of my experiment and formulated exactly how each step worked together to generate real, relevant results. To my great surprise, our project won 1st Place Best Group Project at the Southwest Michigan Science & Engineering Fair, and we will be competing at the 2021 International Science and Engineering Fair this May. It was deeply fulfilling to accrue this knowledge on GMOs through scientific experimentation and have my—and my partner’s—efforts recognized for it.
These numerous avenues have informed my passion for science and encouraged me to impart that passion on others. I feel incredibly fortunate to have taken these opportunities and know I will achieve much more with science through future collaboration and investigation.


Matthew Salinas | Kalamazoo Central High School & Kalamazoo Area Mathematics & Science Center

In my mind, scientists are pioneers. In history books we read about pioneers who explored new lands, discovered new continents, and blazed the way for humanity’s expansion. By the late 1800s however, there wasn’t much unexplored land left to be pioneered. Fortunately, today’s pioneers will never have that problem. The way I see it, today’s pioneers use science to open up the realm of knowledge, and knowledge is infinite. My passion for science stems from wanting to follow in the footsteps of the pioneers who came before me, to learn how they pushed forward, so one day I can step off their trail and forge a path of my own. Humanity is carried forward by those who stand at the forefront and carve new paths. I want to be one of those people, and science will be the tool I use.
The biggest turning point in my life for being able to connect with my passion for science was becoming a student at the Kalamazoo Area Mathematics and Science Center. Before my sophomore year I hadn’t really heard about Computer Science or done anything CS related. I quickly learned at the start of the year the joy of using programming to solve all sorts of different problems. I began to seek out extra credit opportunities and programmed on my own outside of class because I wanted to learn more and code more than what I could during class. I wasn’t alone in this sentiment either. We were the students who helped each other out when we hit bumps, we were the students who brought everyone along to coding competitions, so we could all experience how fun CS could be. It would be a dream come true if every high school student was able to have the same life changing experiences that I did at KAMSC. We would certainly have a lot more scientists to pioneer the way forward.

Emerson Wesselfhoff | Loy Norrix High School & Kalamazoo Mathematics & Science Center

I would pay a large sum of money to know what went through my mother’s head that day, when her six-year-old daughter marched into her room and proclaimed (with the kind of passionate fervor only six-year-olds have) that she was “going to be a biologist!” I had just read a book about Jane Goodall, and my mind was made up. I wanted to spend the rest of my life protecting nature, just like my heroine. 
Firstly, and perhaps most prominently, I’ve expressed my passion for science by pursuing four years of voluntary, independent ecological research at the Kellogg Biological Station. I’ve volunteered on projects focused on nitrogen fixation, mutualism in the plant world, and biodiversity within agronomics. When I explain the connections between my work and the future of our Michigan land, I’ve seen my passion for protecting that land spark in others, too; I’ve realized the immense importance of science as a vessel for change within our communities. That lesson has driven me to pursue the intersection between community outreach and science to a further extent. I underwent 40 hours of training to become a climate peer educator and used said training to found the Area Youth Climate Coalition with six other teens from my county. 
The leadership position I’ve held with AYCC has helped me to share my passions for natural science and the environment in ways that are concise and compassionate. Most importantly, though, I’ve realized I’m not alone. Each time I use my position as a scientist, an educator, and a leader, I find more kids willing to share their own drive for STEAM. The pattern continues, and more voices rise in the fight for a sustainable future. As I listen to that chorus, my passion for science is amplified again, and again.


Sponsorship Opportunities Available!

Show your support for our region's best and brightest Educators, Students, and Innovators in 2022! Download a sponsorship application HERE.  You or your company can play a major role in supporting Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math education in our area! Next event to be held April 16, 2022.

To learn more about SIHOF and MAHOF please contact Keith Crowell, Air Zoo Development Director via email or at 269.350.2812.

A Special Thanks to our 2021 Event and Award Sponsors:
Barbara Parish * Barbara and Jerry James * Bowers Aluminum * Cliff Mulder Retirement and Investment Planning of Raymond James * CTS Telecom * Dar & Mary Wellington * Denso Manufacturing * Donna Ward * Eaton Cummins Automated Transmission Technologies * Eric & Kelly Dougal *  Esper Electric * First National Bank of Michigan * Imperial Beverage * Jamie Pleune*  Kalamazoo Community Foundation * Kalamazoo/Battle Creek International Airport * KSS Enterprises * Plante Moran * Quality Air * Schupan * The Tyler Little Family Foundation *  WowToyz, Inc. * Zoetis


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