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Educator Spotlight: Luigi Torelli

August 22, 2023 — 3 minutes

Charting Exciting Pathways in the DroneBlocks Simulator

If you are a member of the DroneBlocks Community, you may have already witnessed some of Luigi Torelli’s ambitiously imaginative flight paths in the DroneBlocks simulator. Luigi revels in concocting complex and entertaining designs that are built using dynamic geometric paths…sometimes appearing as a roller coaster and others as a cocktail glass. When we launched the simulator, we had the hopes of creating a virtual sandbox for educators and students to explore, and Luigi did just that. Luigi started as a Middle School Technology teacher in Milano, Italy, and after a fruitful 43-year career he retired…only to find himself still interested in teaching coding. He stumbled across DroneBlocks while preparing a new technology course for young students using Tello Drones. It was around this time, the onset of the Covid Pandemic in Italy brought everything to a halt.

“Face-to-face courses and events disappeared, companies faltered, and the one I worked for closed. But in this period DroneBlocks performed magic by creating the Drone Simulator” Luigi explained. A simulator that worked online and allowed students to plan and execute the flight of a virtual drone in virtual space was a “beautiful novelty” says Luigi. “I started working with the simulator, it allows you to build complex missions that even the physical drones do not allow.” Luigi developed new teaching material during this time that currently lives on as part of the DroneBlocks curriculum (which you can find HERE) Luigi then partnered with ComPVter, an Italian non-profit to bring activities like DroneBlocks to schools. Luigi explains that many schools in Italy are timid when it comes to STEM investments, but the Drone Simulator is a great way to get started without the limitations of physical drone activities. He also prefers how customizable the lessons within the Simulator can be to fit the student’s abilities. “The simulator offers each student the opportunity to build a mission in an individualized and autonomous way…this allows the teacher to propose an activity calibrated on the characteristics of a student or class whom he/she knows best.”

We asked Luigi to share the code of one of his most recent projects. “The Drone first takes off and climbs vertically, then performs a progressively higher and larger spiral, and takes the shape of a big white bubbly wine glass…”

As much fun as it is to create these interesting flight paths, Luigi says each one is born out of the search for activities for his students, based on what math they may be learning. Some Middle School topics he covers include dynamic geometry in space such as squares, equilateral triangles, hexagons in horizontal planes, the potentiality of loops, and the specificity of rotations in flight compared to angle logic in Euclidean geometry. Some High School topics include oblique flights and ascending polygonal spirals using a three-dimensional cartesian triad, as well as curved flights made of parabolas, conical spirals, and much more.

The team at DroneBlocks thanks Luigi for taking DroneBlocks to new heights, and inspiring a plethora of exciting flight path designs we now see frequently in the DroneBlocks Community group – namely we want to give a special shout-out as well to a frequent collaborator of Luigi’s, Middle School teacher Antonio Leoni for creating some breathtaking geometrics and even trussed bridges within the many Simulator environments. Keep it up!

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