While drones may not be part of your curriculum this school year, they are coming. Here's an introduction into their use in education.
Heather Wolpert-Gawron, a middle school teacher and curriculum coordinator, answers the question, "so what can you do with it?". And notes that maybe we're not "there" quite yet.
Here's another list of how drones can be integrated into education, in areas from art to assembling tensile structures or bridges to ethics. As drones are versatile devices, they can be shared and used amongst multiple departments
Get Your Drone On
Since 2004, volunteers have mentored the G3 Grady High School Robotics Team in Atlanta, GA, introducing students to technology careers and providing a glimpse into the engineering profession.
- YouTube URL
OK, you are probably much better off buying rather than building your first drone. This pages shows you the steps needed to create a drone, from different frames and frame materials to motors, electronics and software.
If you scroll down to Part 1: Understanding Basic Drone Terminology, you get a good idea of all the different STEM areas involved in working with drones.
Schools Use Drones For Learning
In this NBC News video, Thanh Truong looks how the University of Missouri's journalism school is one of the the first to experiment with drone technology in reporting. He also touches on the controversies surrounding drones.
- YouTube URL
The Drones for Schools program resembles a nesting doll for concepts in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. A drone is a complex machine, and once you peek inside, one STEM concept leads to another.
To design the aircraft, you begin with concepts like Bernoulli's principle, which when applied through a mathematical formula, determines parameters such as stall speed (how slow the plane can fly before falling out of the sky). Stall speed dictates the power you need to fly, which opens an opportunity to deliver content about electricity and electric motors. And delivering content about electricity and electric motors segues nicely into lessons about battery chemistry and capacity. There are material stiffness vs. weight vs. size issues. All the while, students are applying this content knowledge as they make key decisions about how this aircraft will be designed and deployed.
The individual lessons are valuable on their own, but the program's biggest gains come from students assuming the roles of engineers. This program was designed in part to meet the demands of the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS),
STEM Drone Camp at Bakersfield College
About two dozen middle school students from around Kern County attended a very special STEM Camp, hosted by Bakersfield College. With potential college and careers in mind, students learned everything there is to know about drones - from building them to flying them! One teacher was happily impressed with the fact that about half the attendees were female.
Check with your local hobby shop or R.C. flying club to see if an event can be created for your school.
- YouTube URL
Sky Magic Live at Mt.Fuji
What happens when you combine music, art and science? You get a drone ballet.
The beautiful backdrop of Mt. Fuji was used to stage the first live performance using MIDI controlled LED flying machines, accompanied by Shamisens, the Japanese traditional guitars.
The event combined than 20 drones, flight swarming formations, music, and 16,500 LED lights to combine into a single audio visual feast.
- Vimeo URL
Drones are a lot of fun to fly. But a 10-pound object falling from 100 feet can damage property or seriously injure an innocent bystander. Small personal ("toy") drones, not so much.
This page has a slew of practical advice for new drone operators and provides links to the latest FAA and other government regulations. Be aware that in the US, there are drone no-fly zones, the rules vary state-by-state, and things are constantly changing.
Teaching students safe and responsible flying can go a long way to prevent problems now and for years to come.
Drones that weigh less than 0.55 lbs. (250 g) including batteries do not need to be registered. Most toy and hand held drones fall in this category.
Larger drones up to 55 lbs. like those designed to carry cameras do need to be registered. The process is easy and can be done on-line.
Here's the information you need.
SkyBot was a small, 3D printed drone kit designed to walk students, or even interested adults, through the concepts of basic drone and robotics construction. Their goal was to give STEM students (and teachers) an inexpensive project that does something useful (and fun) when completed, and in the process gain practical experience in drone aerodynamics and mechanical & electronic component assembly.
Look for follow on projects.
Engaging kids with lesson plans that feel to them more like building or using a toy than learning is an excellent way to keep kids interested and encourage them to familiarize themselves with modern technology.
Other Areas To Check Out...
• Algodoo 2-D Physics Sandbox
• An Evaluation Checklist for Educational Web Sites
• Creating Digital Libraries
• Example Virtual Libraries
• FT STEM – Building Airplanes
• Mentors and Mentoring
• Migrant Education Resources
• Models & Software For Your 3D Printer
• Selecting A 3D Printer
• Tips for Science Fair Projects