Want to take students a step beyond Trigonometry or dissecting frogs? Ask them to create mini drones in the classroom.
Annapolis, Md.-based South River High School has begun offering a new class in modern technology in a topic which has long been discussed in the media: drones. Twelve students and two teachers are enrolled in the venture, called "Introduction to Unmanned Aerial Systems," an engineering course which requires students to make and fly quadcopters, a type of flying machine piloted from the ground.
If you think of drones, otherwise known as unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), use by the military in missions for surveillance purposes, governmental deployment in Europe to track the activities of farmers, or Amazon's recent declaration to build delivery drones may come to mind. However, for the South River students, experimenting with UAVs is all about business -- and what this technology offers the corporate world.
In the classroom, students have been supplied with four modified DJI Flame Wheel quadcopters by the sponsor of the course, engineering company ARINC. In four teams of three, the students are assigned different roles -- someone to watch the drone, another to control it, and a safety officer who keeps an eye on procedures and warns the pilot of any hazards while the machine is in the air.
However, it is not just about piloting the device. In addition, the student teams are modifying their designs in order to equip the drones with other technology, such as cameras.
The course is touted as a career-booster, and has attracted students across different disciplines, including pre-engineers, aerospace and computer science majors.