Blog Articles

Drones in the Classroom

December 19, 2021 — 5 minutes

The Tello Drone STEM Curriculum And A New Strategy For Professional Development, By DroneBlocks

As engineering and technological marvels continue to shape the world around us, STEM Education, science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM),  is imperative in preparing the next generation for the future. 

As these industries grow more reliant on well-educated STEM workers, those students proficient and familiar with these concepts become more and more attractive to prospective employers in the technological industries. 

Despite the extremely high demand for STEM proficient workers, the US Department of Education reports a 600,000 person labor shortage in these industries. To explain this shortage, The US Department of Education found that only 16% of high school students in the nation are interested in a STEM career and have the necessary math skills to pursue a career in STEM industries. 

Unfortunately, they also found that 57% of students who’ve verbally declared interest in STEM, lose interest within a year. This is where the role of educational drones comes into play; as a new medium for students to learn and apply STEM-related subjects, while they have fun understanding how their drones software operates and functions mechanically.

Incorporating drone education programs into a traditional STEM curriculum in middle schools and high schools demonstrates a shift in how educational institutions can start raising skilled, proficient students familiar with drones, computer science, and the engineering design process. Combining traditional STEM academics with an applied drone education program is a proven way to engage teenagers and children with STEM-related subjects and promote early-stage workforce development.

Career Technical Education and Professional Development

Introducing drone classes into middle schools and high schools gives teenage students and children a new avenue to understand physics, mechanics, and aviation, but also gives teachers a new way to educate their students in STEM subjects.

The American Society for Engineering Education has extensively researched the potential for professional development and new ways to enhance teaching techniques in STEM subjects through the application of robotics and specifically drones. They found the building and flying of drones can enhance a multi-subject approach to learning STEM principles and robotics and, In 2018 in a one-week long summer camp for middle schoolers they found that hands-on activities can effectively engage students and promote learning and make a direct impact on student’s attitudes towards STEM. 

However, in that same research, the question is if teachers are trained and ready to introduce drone education programs in elementary schools and up now. For this reason, learning to teach a drone lesson plan is a boon for teachers looking to step up their technical and computer science skills.

Educational Drones: The Tello Drone And Other Small Unmanned Aerial Systems

With a large selection of UAVs on the market from commercial drones to drones for kids, DroneBlocks uses an educational drone called the DJI Tello drone, one of the best budget-friendly drones to teach the next generation of students applied math, programming, and teambuilding. DroneBlocks is compatible with the entire Tello drone series including the Tello EDU and Robomaster TT ( Tello Talent).

The Tello drone is a small programmable drone you can code yourself with the help of DroneBlocks coding apps and STEM drone curriculum. This allows students to create fulfilling and educational projects. These instruments are perfect drones for schools because they not only help students learn computer science concepts but they are incredibly safe for flying in the classroom.

While some companies may market their drone kits as drones for kids or drones for teenagers, DroneBlocks values the Tello drone and its software development kit (SDK) for its ability to provide students with an easy interface to learn how to code drones.

The DroneBlocks Curriculum 

Teaching children STEM concepts like applied math, and exploring physics is a necessary but traditionally arduous task, mostly because children are hardly offered the experience to understand these concepts in a hands-on, applied way. Researchers at the American GeoPhysical Union concluded that drones are a perfect entry point to stimulate curiosity and encourage students to understand science and engineering.

DroneBlocks’ educational curriculum introduces drone programming and simulation fundamentally changing the traditional STEM model by offering students a hands-on approach to understanding physics and aeronautics. Through the DroneBlocks platform, teachers and students can learn these principles through an extensive library of cloud-based lessons.

With a comprehensive drone class, students will learn how to fly a drone and use the DroneBlocks drone programming integrated development environment (IDE). By interfacing with Block Coding, Python, and Javascript and truly create a STEAM learning experience.

Through the practice of applied math and physics, prospective students will have an edge in early-stage workforce development. Using educational drones in elementary schools and middle schools exposes students to STEM-related theory, allowing teenagers and children to explore ideas like drag or angular momentum.  How much easier is it to understand concepts like lift, aerodynamics, and aeronautics when you build, program, and engineer the craft yourself.

Drones education programs in middle schools help students explore STEM concepts by challenging children to ask important questions and act on their curiosity. If a drone does not fly, they can ask themselves why and perhaps begin to better understand the elements that make their craft hover.

In this sense, a drone education curriculum places children in the proximal zone of development, where children can tangibly apply what they have learned in the classroom, but also seek guidance and supervision from their peers and teachers. Not only does this teach students to apply and internalize STEM-related subjects but also develop a student’s collaboration and communication skills.

Likewise, drones in high schools are great tools to help teenagers visualize and apply more difficult STEM topics they learned in the classroom. This kind of education has long-term benefits to a student’s understanding of STEM subjects but enhances their skill set, determining how they will interact with prospective employers for years to come. 

A New Wave In STEM Education

In this burgeoning industry, drone jobs and drone pilots are viable options for STEM proficient students and any related experience can be a boon in the labor market. The U.S. The Bureau of Labor Statistics found that computer programmers had a median pay in 2020 of $42.88 per hour, and students who benefit from a drone class like DroneBlocks, then they are already equipped with the skills to be viable and attractive candidates to future employers. 

While the benefit of a drone-based curriculum is obvious for students, the opportunities for educators to engage in professional development should be promoted among educational institutions to help teachers apply their skills and new teaching techniques to be better assets to their students and community.

DroneBlocks is Teaching Students to Code Using Drones

Transform traditional classrooms into future-ready learning hubs with DroneBlocks. Our comprehensive drone STEM curriculum, interactive apps, and kits are designed for students at all educational levels.

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