Many students look at drones as cool toys to play with, not an emerging technology with several career possibilities. Drones are being utilized in several industries and are making huge impacts on society. Below are a few examples:
- Zipline (https://flyzipline.com), a medical product delivery company, is revolutionizing the way medical supplies are transported to medical clinics in Africa.
- AgEagle Aerial Systems (https://www.ageagle.com/drones), manufactures high performance drones capable of capturing ultra-high resolution images and producing actionable data analytics for farmers.
- Other ways drone technology is impacting society – https://www.cbinsights.com/research/drone-impact-society-uav/
From an educational perspective, exposing students to drone technology in the classroom provides an innovative learning experience. In addition to having students explore the many career possibilities in this fast-growing, multibillion-dollar industry, drones can also serve as an educational tool to teach computer programming. Drones also present many opportunities for students to practice 21st Century Skills, such as communication, collaboration, critical thinking and problem-solving. Last year I implemented Apple Swift Playgrounds and the Parrot Education Subscription to teach my students how to program and pilot a Parrot Mambo drone. Students learned how to program a drone to takeoff, land, move in all directions, make aerobatic figures, and even control accessories. It was a successful hands-on learning experience for my students and they had the opportunity to see first-hand the cause and effect of their programming. Although there were many successes, there were also failures, providing authentic opportunities for learning. For example, one of the challenges I gave my students was to program the drone to fly through an obstacle course. This challenge posed a lot of struggles for my students; but every time they failed, they worked to troubleshoot their programs and figure out why the drone was not doing what they wanted it to do. They then fixed their code and tested it again. The perseverance that I witnessed by my students during this experience was truly amazing.
Drone resources that I use in my classroom can be found at https://bit.ly/2XlLkBI. I encourage you to consider incorporating drones into your classes. They are engaging and a great opportunity for learning computer science.