Taking Off with Drones in Education

Since we were fortunate to obtain support from the Institution of Engineering & Technology and the Institution of Mechanical Engineers (IET and IMechE), our work with drones in the classroom has literally taken off!

We have worked with hundreds of children from Years 3 through to 12 and have been amazed at how engaging the sessions have been.

We are now the UK leading user of drones in the classroom, working with classes of up to 30 learners at a time.  

Through the grant we were able to work with 9 primary schools and two RAF Air Cadet sections to deliver a 1-day drone coding session.

 

Sessions bring to life Engineering Habits of Mind encouraging children to think and act like engineers.  From the moment we set the challenge to them identifying the problems developing ideas and developing code these habits are being formed.  Having enough challenges and cycles of practice throughout the day really starts to embed the habits.

The level of engagement throughout the day stays constantly high.  The excitement when children see their code come to life and the drones taking off and doing as they have coded is a sight to behold.  

Seeing them fail and debugging the code learning what works and what doesn’t is all part of the day.  We say that FAIL stands for First Attempt In Learning and that fail fast learn quickly really helps.  Over planning and polishing rarely works on sessions like these – nor in life.  Those that did soon find out that time is against them and they must get on with it.

The habits of problem finding and solving start quickly as soon as the drones take off.  Debugging code to develop the improvement habit come soon after.  Spending time discussing how to visualise outcomes before even stepping up to code was one of the most valuable habits to start to develop.

Using story boarding, writing out the code, drawing the plan and especially acting it out led to the biggest improvements when coding and testing out on the drones.

As with everything we do at Skill Supply, there is a key central component of teamworking involved and developed during the session.  Children each take on a different role for each challenge and find out how communication within and between the teams impacts on the success of their missions.  They develop collaboration and followership attributes, understanding that views can be different but someone (the decision maker) has to move things along for the good of the mission.

Making sure that everyone plays their role, but moving along quickly enough, ensures that even if team members are not comfortable in a particular role, it doesn’t last forever and no-one dies!

Feedback from the children has been great and opening their eyes to how engineering impacts on our everyday lives and that they too could make a difference as engineers has been a privilege.  

Teachers and staff have seen new ways of exciting children in STEM and also been left with follow on work that can continue when we have left the classroom.  Their feedback has been excellent too.

 

We are looking to work with more schools (primary and secondary) using drones and coding to develop more engineers of the future.  Why not drop us a line to see how we could bring this amazing STEM activity to you.

A selection of videos from 3 of the schools we have worked with.  See our YouTube channel for more examples.

All images and video with permission from the schools.  All rights reserved.