You might be surprised to hear this, but I’ve never piloted a UAV. In fact, other than the odd mention of military drones in the news, I’ve never paid much attention to UAVs at all — that is, until this past summer. Quite suddenly, it seemed that drones were everywhere. They were popping up on
You might be surprised to hear this, but I’ve never piloted a UAV. In fact, other than the odd mention of military drones in the news, I’ve never paid much attention to UAVs at all — that is, until this past summer. Quite suddenly, it seemed that drones were everywhere. They were popping up on Amazon’s front page, buzzing around mall kiosks, hovering above the pavement in my cul de sac, and taking over the news.
It wasn’t possible for me to relegate drones the “new toy” category of my mind and carry on living as if they didn’t exist; something was clearly happening So, I did what I always do in these cases — I put on my research pants and got to work. Lo and behold, there was far more to drones than I had ever imagined. And, like so many new technologies before them (calculators, personal computers, handheld tablets), I found that drones touched a place very close to my heart — the classroom.
Drones in the Classroom?
As a former preschool teacher, I have an intense love for all things STEM. There’s nothing more magical than seeing a child light up at the wonders of science, master the newest technology, engineer a magnificent structure out of blocks, or work through a math equation as if it were second nature.
These subjects are incredibly important as they have a major impact on our lives. From the science of our natural world and to the engineering of our infrastructure — STEM is everywhere. Furthermore, our children will need these skills to compete in the job market. According to the U.S. Department of Commerce, STEM occupations are growing at 17%, while others are only growing at 9.8%. Furthermore, STEM degree holders enjoy higher earnings, whether they work in STEM occupations or not.
Some children have a natural attraction to these subjects, but others need a bit of a push. While there are many ways to get kids interested in one (or more) STEM subjects, drones may be one of the best as they encompass all aspects of STEM. There’s science in how drones fly, technology in their onboard cameras and GPS, engineering in their very structure, and mathematics in the way they move through the world.
How Children Can Use Drones
There’s a push to see more drones in the classroom as they have a countless number of educational uses. Children can explore the physics of lift, thrust, and drag with drones. They can design and build their own, advancing their engineering knowledge. They can get a better grip on technology by programming the Parrot AR Drone 2.0 to do more than originally intended. They can use drones with advanced cameras, like the DJI Phantom 3 to film and study wildlife in its natural habitat. The possibilities are almost endless.
Some schools have already taken the initiative and started implementing drones in their curriculums. Greenon High School in Springfield, Ohio, has a course in which students build a scale model of their school and use drones to survey the school and create an evacuation plan. A teacher at Mount Olive High School in New Jersey bought a drone for his students to use as a production tool for their local public access show. Michigan teacher Justin Dickerson teaches his students how to program and fly drones in order to give them a leg up when it comes to 21st century skills.
While STEM skills may play a major role in our children’s future, you may be wondering what role drones in particular will play. Well friends, that’s the sixty-four-thousand-dollar-question.
What Dreams May Come
There’s already a lot of talk about how drones will be used in the near future. Amazon has plans in place for package delivery via drone. Matternet is working with Doctors Without Borders in an attempt to deliver much needed medicine to developing nations. Farmers across the U.S. are awaiting FAA regulations before turning drones into essential tools for monitoring crop health. Hell, even Disney wants to get in on the drone game — possibly to create stunning aerial shows for guests.
However, these ideas barely scrape the surface of what drones may one day make possible. Drones could be applied toward a number of uses, including:
- building homes
- transporting people
- fighting crime
- space exploration
- organ delivery
- and so much more
Of course, with the looming boom in commercial and private drone use, there will be a serious need in the industry for developers, engineers, and pilots. In fact, it’s forecasted that drones will create more than 70,000 jobs within three years — and inject more than $82 billion into the U.S. economy by 2025. Herein lies the real role drones will play in our children’s future — jobs.
Our kids need to know drones inside and out. They’ll be programming, building, and flying them. They’ll be getting news, goods, and rides from them. They’ll need to understand drones on more than a basic level in order to make their way in a 21st century world.
Liz Greene is a writer and former preschool teacher from Boise, ID. She loves dogs, Marvel comics, boning up on local history, dogs, adult coloring books, Game of Thrones, and dogs. She also likes dogs. You can delve deeper into her internal musings on her site, Instant Lo.