Drone class takes student learning to new heights

July 25, 2019
students looking at drone

Students were flying high during Community Education’s Summer Slice program. They learned coding and collaboration through a new drone class. The students worked together in the aftermath of a "community natural disaster" scenario, using computational thinking, coding and human-centered design.

Teacher Nicolle Poechmannand Technology and Innovation Coach Julie Balfanz taught the students how to use drag and drop block programming to control the flight path and movement of the DJI Tello EDU micro drones.

High school mentors from the Stillwater Armada First Robotics team were also on hand to guide students as they used the drones to try to drop a ping-pong ball into a bucket. The lessons helped students to use empathy and collaborate with their peers while also learning how to follow directions, solve-problems, and persist through failures along the way - all skills vital to a student’s success in the real world. 

“We talked a lot about failing forward and the need for teams to have perseverance,” said Balfanz.

The class culminated with a visit from Washington County Sheriff Deputy Matthew O’Hara who showed students how drones and robots are being used in law enforcement.

“I want the students to understand that while drone and robotics technology is amazing and has great potential, effective search and rescue efforts need an organized and highly trained incident command structure” said Balfanz. “It require the ability of human teams to use empathy to plan and develop search strategy along with critical thinking skills to interpret and strategically utilize the data gathered by these technology tools.”

The drones are owned by Pony Changemakers a student innovation club. The group hopes to incorporate more hands-on challenged based learning into our classrooms and develop community partnerships to give more real-world learning opportunities.

Watch a video.