How Drones Can be Used in Learning
- Dec 07, 2015
The topic of drones has always been controversial. As far back into the past as our memories can take us, drones dig up the headlines of warfare and military activities. Technology has helped us scale immense heights, but at a price. If you give it a closer look, you would find that it’s actually not the machines that wreak havoc, it’s the ones behind them. It all comes down to how we use them. And drones are no exception.
Drones, also known as quadcopters, have found use in many fields recently. Photography is one of them. And the other one, which we are going to elaborate on in this article, is education. But before we go into details, let me first introduce you to drones in a newer light.
Drones are either unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) or remotely piloted aircraft (RPA). In simpler words, they are like flying robots that can complete a series of tasks successfully. Owing to the convenience they provide, drones are increasingly being commercialized.
Drones are cooking up quite a buzz in the education field. Some of the ways in which they can be used have been listed below.
Encourage Your Students to Make a Drone
Building drones from scratch involves a number of lessons that students could make use of. It is an incredible hands-on project that can help students acquire the following skills:
- Problem solving
- Decision making
- Critical thinking
Additionally, making a drone requires basic knowledge of science. Therefore, it is a great way for students to apply what they learn in class and actually create something. The following subjects will come into play while building drones:
- Mathematics: Considered the mother of all subjects, a clear concept of Maths is extremely important to make a drone. Basic calculations, trigonometry and other similar concepts would come in handy.
- Robotics: It goes without saying that designing and operating a drone requires the application of the concepts of Robotics.
- Electronics: A drone is an assembly of various electronic equipment that have been inserted in the right places while keeping the specifications of each in mind. Once completed, it should be able to work properly. To accomplish this, students would be required to apply their knowledge of Electronics.
- Programming: A drone is controlled by a microcontroller. This needs to be programmed to make the drone function accurately.
STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) subjects play an immense role in creating drones from scratch. Therefore, STEM students can benefit a lot from drone classes.
Building a properly functioning drone would require students to be jacks of all trades. That means putting the knowledge acquired from all these lessons together and applying them to create an operational drone.
The following video shows how to build a quadcopter.
Shoot a Field Trip
The next time you plan a field trip for your class, take the drone that your students create along with you. Believe me, you would find a number of uses for it on the trip. Some of these could be the following:
- A drone can be employed to record the entire field trip from the moment you and your students step out of the bus. This will ensure that your students do not miss out on anything.
- It can take pictures of areas that your students find difficult to reach.
- The data collected by the drone could be utilized in a project or any assignment later on.
Additionally, you could also arrange for a video project and let the drone do all the shooting (videos and pictures, of course). It could be a play, a debate or just about anything. The drone videography will add a fun bit to the entire process.
Here’s a quick heads up: we recommend you to find out about the drone laws before experimenting with them.
Land Survey Project
Drones have become quite a big deal in real estate photography and videography. If you look around the school, you would hardly find a dearth of real estate in the campus. You can have your students scour the campus with the help of the drone they have made to locate flora and fauna and even the landscapes. It could take pictures of the soil and rocks in the campus garden for your students to identify the kind. Drone photography would also help your students view the campus from an elevated perspective.
If you have the necessary permission, you can also think about going beyond the school’s boundaries. Have a location in mind? Fly the drone there to learn more about that landscape. Geography lessons could become more interesting with the drone bringing photos and videos of the local lakes, hills and other places of interest. You can ask your students to study the data and pictures gathered by the drone and employ them to complete a homework assignment. This would also give your students a chance to learn more about the environment they live in, in real time.
Here is a video shot by a land surveying drone.
Ask Your Students to Write an End-of-Year Paper on Drones
Even though frowned upon, drones could make wonderful learning tools if used in the right context. Whatever the situation is, the topic is always up for debate. While drones in all their glory can help students be a part of an innovative learning experience, discussion pertaining to the mere topic could be educational too.
You can ask your students to write essays on the pros and cons of using drones for educational purposes as a year-end assignment. You can also ask them to come up with their own ideas for employing drones in the classroom. Apart from that, you can also consider conducting a debate session over this topic.
As you become an active part of the drone era, you would find yourself finding newer ways to incorporate drones in your classroom. This is a basic list and you can add your own ideas to this list.
Since this is a brand new concept, there would be glitches along the way. The drone your students create might crash land, fall apart at the first flying attempt, not hold its own when the parts are assembled together and so on. You should be ready for the worst possible scenarios. Nonetheless, when your students finally overcome the issues and it takes flight, the experience will be a memorable one. Even though the endeavor may not be a glittering success story from the beginning but it is definitely worth a try.
With newer innovations in technology being implemented in scores of schools around the world, who knows what the future might hold? I recommend you to saddle up and make drones the next happening thing in your school. The positives are promising and there’s really not much to lose.
Do you have any other ideas for using drones for your class? Share those with us in the comments section below. We would love to hear from you.
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