We have a drone at school which is linked to an ipad. The ipad controls the drone and stores the videos that it captures. We use these videos for making movies about events around the school calendar, such as maypole dancing and sports day. The footage has been really useful for the children to see our school from many different angles.
We train a few children in KS2 (aged 7-11) every year on how to control the drone who then pass their knowledge on to the next year group's new pilots. The drone has foam protectors underneath it, so that when it crashes it doesn't get damaged. It has been crashed into trees and I've had to climb onto the school roof many times to rescue it, but it's still undamaged (touch wood).
The Benefits of learning to fly drones
First and foremost, flying a drone at school is great fun! Children get an immediate sense of satisfaction flying the drone and then, when they see their footage on YouTube they feel extremely proud too. Secondly, flying a drone is great for developing hand/eye coordination. You're not just controlling a robot in 2 dimensions - you're controlling it in three dimensions which is a lot more difficult.
Uses of drones in schools
As well as using the quadcopter to film the school site, inside and outside, from different angles and film special events around the school, drones can be used at school in many different ways across the curriculum:
- Literacy - explanation texts can be writteman on how to control the drone
- Maths - estimating and measuring heights, speed, distance travelled, time taken
- Art - paint brushes can be attached to drones to create art on big sheets of paper
- PE - filming sports days and matches from different angles
- PSHE - debate the ethics of using drones
- Geography - local geography studies can be enhanced with drone footage (some drones now have GPS built in)
- Science - neasuring tools can be attached to the drone to measure air pressure, wind speed, temperature, etc for Science lessons
- Computing - some drones can be programmed on the ipads too (ours can't) thus creating a new and exciting way to deliver the computing curriculum
Treasure hunts can be created around the school and obstacle courses can be set up to fly the drones around to find the best drone pilot. We took our drone into our local church and the children filmed inside the church as part of our RE lesson.
Developing skills for the future
We don't know what jobs will be around when our students leave school. Many of the job titles in existence now didn't exist when our parents were children. However, we do know that more and more jobs are being created every year for drone pilots, not just in the military but for companies such as Amazon for deliveries. So instead of leaving that drone in the staffroom and wondering what you can do with it, why not get it out of its box and give it to a bunch of students and ask them how you can use it to enhance your curriculum? I'm sure that they will come up with some interesting ideas too!