February 3, 2023 — 3 minutes
As most of us in the education space already know, little else can inspire wonder and unlock potential for students quite like hands-on STEM learning. At DroneBlocks, we’ve seen the amazing things children and educators alike are capable of the instant they get a programmable Drone in their hands. However, the hard truth is – getting STEM tools such as Drones into the hands of every student is a hefty challenge. Especially equipping students who attend schools that are underserved or rural. Most of these schools do not have the budget or resources to give their students access to state-of-the-art STEM tools. That’s why BetaBox Learning has made it their mission to close the opportunity gap in the STEM field and why they have been bringing hands-on learning tools and curriculum to schools across the country.
The BetaBox model is simple in concept: Deck out a mobile trailer with 3D Printers, Robots, and other forward tech and bring the field trip to the school! However, that simplicity is wholly by design, as BetaBox’s founder Sean Newman Maroni explains “It’s all about eliminating friction to get students hands-on access; to go and meet them where they are.” BetaBox field trip funding is often secured by the BetaBox team by either partnering with Industry Sponsors in the Tech Space or by State Funded Grants- keeping the burden off of individual schools.
Each BetaBox is custom fit to the school, and the curriculum is curated to the day’s topic. The BetaBox team then delivers a high-energy, one-hour experience for 100 students a day. Inside the box are 3D printers, Robotic Cars, Laptops, Drones, and recently a Robot Dog from DroneBlocks! In fact, BetaBox has been featuring DroneBlocks as part of their “Autonomous Vehicles” programming for a few years. Sean had this to say:
“We get a ton of use out of DroneBlocks! We enjoy how receptive the team is to questions…I will check the forum once a week to see if there is anything new and chime in. The kids love it, it’s such a simple interface that our middle schoolers pick it up right away.”
BetaBox estimates that over 10,000 students used DroneBlocks as part of their curriculum in 2022 alone!
BetaBox is also an early adopter of the DroneBlocks Robot Dog platform featuring the Unitree GO1. Justin Leonard, the BetaBox curriculum designer, said the Dog (now named F1D0 ) “Blows kids’ minds – we have a ton of fun” as part of their Electronics Lesson Plan. Justin compares teaching STEM to teaching Magic,
“I love seeing the kids’ wonder. It’s as if you’re teaching them magic spells…It’s such a fulfilling thing to see.”
The Robot Dog is currently featured as a demonstration to spark awe and excitement as they explain the engineering, circuitry, and Artificial intelligence behind the design. F1D0 has also spurred conversations about ethical dilemmas in robotics and how they can be used in real-world applications.
Once the BetaBox is packed up and off to the next school, the focus turns to sustain the spark with students. BetaBox allows schools to check out equipment, download lesson plans, and has online Professional Development for educators. BetaBox is currently focusing on investing more in its follow-up services platform. Sean explains his determination in knocking down red tape and funding hurdles, “The entire purpose of the platform is eliminating any friction to being hands-on and engaging. Not only money, access, bureaucracy…but a lack of standard aligned lessons.” Sean hopes to bundle signature partnerships with STEM Education programs into one platform to make it seamless for schools to pick their offerings Ala carte, without having to deal with each vendor individually. “We want to become the gateway for vendors and equipment to make things seamless, to solve the last piece of the puzzle. And DroneBlocks would be a perfect partnership for this model.”
To learn more about BetaBox Learning, you can visit their site HERE to learn more and keep up with their amazing work.
From rural classrooms to bustling city schools, educators are achieving unprecedented engagement and academic excellence. See firsthand how DroneBlocks serves as the catalyst for transformative education.