Drones have taken the world of educational technology (edtech) by storm. Stories about drones and learning have been a huge feel-good moment this year, showcasing the incredible possibility of drone STEM curriculum, activities, courses, camps, and more. There are a ton of teachers out there killing it, using drones in the classroom safely and effectively to facilitate and bring home deep STEM learning. We love it all, and so we rounded up some of our favorite stories, so you can see the magic of drones for yourself.

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Drones and Learning: In the News, Around the World

Flying high and flying low, drones in the classroom are here to stay. Kids learn vital STEM concepts and even STEM career skills through drones. Truth. Here are some soul-boosting, fist-pump-worthy illustrations:

A School Using Drones to Deliver Internet to Students

In Wisconsin, drones were the key resource in a pilot program in the Northland Pines School District. The district used a $100,000 grant from the state to work with a tech company, utilizing drones tethered to a power source. These drones were tested to function as flying cell towers, beaming the internet down to students living in rural areas who didn’t have high-speed internet access. With as many as 10% of the kids in that school district lacking access to the internet at home, this solution represented an out-of-the-box solution using drones.

Library Book Delivery Using Drones

A librarian in the Christianburg Montgomery County Public School District was troubled by kids’ lack of access to new reads and resources during the COVID-19 pandemic. She partnered up with a drone service from Alphabet to deliver library books to students. . . using drones. The students were able to request any book from the catalogue and have it delivered to their yard for free. A gift of learning: delivered by a drone.

Drones for Gifted Students and Problem-Solving

A teacher in Huntington, West Virginia, teaches a fifth grade gifted class. She had a personal interest in drones and wrote numerous proposals, finally getting $20,000 in funding to buy drones for her class. She uses them as a teaching tool, specifically to teach kids about coding, the physics of flight, and problem solving. Her work has been especially impactful for the girls in her classroom. While girls who code and girls in STEM is a popular idea in many regions, it hasn’t experienced the same buy-in in rural communities. By introducing drones in class, this educator is routinely empowering girls, watching interest in STEM grow and encouraging lifelong learning.

Kids Becoming Certified Drone Pilots

High school students all over the country are becoming certified drone pilots. One incoming junior in Cleburne High School in Texas became the first student in her school to earn the FAA 107 Drone Pilot Certification. Her interest in drones was encouraged by in class and out of class experiences, with a special focus on engineering design. She enjoyed hands-on experiences and instruction to drones in the classroom and says she was the youngest person taking the certification test. 

Drones From the Electrical Company

At Palm Beach Lakes High School in Florida, the local power company also happens to be Florida’s largest electric utility company. FPL gifted the school $20,000 and five high-end drones to support a STEM program that’s launching in the 2021/2022 school year.

Drone Camps for High School Students

Drone camps are becoming a hot topic for parents and young adults worldwide. Giving kids prolonged, focused time to learn about drones, fly drones, and engage in STEM learning is hugely attractive. Lake Area Technical College in Watertown, South Dakota, hosted its first-ever drone camp for high schoolers this year. Robotics and Electronics majors, among others, became drone camp instructors, working directly with high school-aged campers to learn how to operate this technology.

Drone Technology and School Safety

This story is representative of a growing trend: Fort Pierce Central High in St. Lucie County Florida is being literally watched over by drones. Drones are keeping students safe in the 5,400 acre campus. Students pilot drones under the deputy’s supervision, patrolling the perimeter of the school and gaining a unique vantage point to spot any security breaches or weaknesses. They find it’s far faster to use the drone to do these perimeter checks and assessments on foot, and have the endorsement of the local county sheriff’s office and authorities.

Drones in the Newsroom

College-aged students are getting exposure to a whole new type of journalism: using drones to gather news perspectives. A journalism professor at the College of Communication and Information at the University of Kentucky launched a Drone Journalism Class, teaching students how to use this technology to gather news. They are then training the students to prepare to earn their drone pilots licenses. 

Autonomous Drones: Faster Flights at MIT

Two grad students at MIT are future-proofing drone operations. They created a new algorithm that enables faster, nimbler drone operations for time-critical missions, such as search and rescue. Unlike avant-garde drone racing (where you usually crash to win), this duo is working to resolve the instability drones face at high speeds. Typically, high-speed drone flight is plagued with uncertainty, because the aerodynamics are complicated and unpredictable. 

As drones get faster, they can be used for vital, life-saving missions; that is if they stay on course. Ezra Tal and Sertac Karaman are aerospace engineers taking a holistic approach, building an algorithm that can enable drones to navigate complex environments. The goal is that drones can fly as fast as possible, without errors. The teams’ findings have been published in the International Journal of Robotics Research.

Learn a Drone: Learn for Life

Drones make learning real for kids and students of all ages. It’s amazing to see how this technology has become mainstream, supporting innovation and giving flight to people’s biggest ideas. As kids see drones more and more in everyday life, it reinforces the importance of learning this technology, and the real possibility to make game-changing life choices, using the magic of drones as a master tool. We are proud to be at the forefront of all of this, leading the way with the world’s best drone STEM curriculum.
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