When Learning Village Innovation Coordinator Michele Mathieson attended the summer 2019 Computer Science Institute, she worked with educators from across the region. One of them mentioned a drone program in her school for Grades K – 6 students, and that the students loved racing drones and had hosted a Drone Night. Inspired to go further, Mathieson began to plan how to connect a drone program to other teaching and learning at the School. The result was a first trimester Quest, “How Can We Build a Drone Program for Students in Grades K – 4?”
“Students have been really interested in drones, and we haven't used them here much,” said Mathieson. “Since we’ve been doing so much coding in computer science it seemed like a good extension to our activities.”
Knowing that she wanted a program deeper than the one she’d heard described, and one that is connected to other areas of the curriculum, Mathieson decided that exploring the topic in a Quest was the perfect opportunity to conduct more research.
“First we had to figure out which drones to purchase,” she said. “So, we explored ways to research this topic. We had some students look at what other schools were using, some looking up the best drones to use with K - 4 students, and some looking at ways to further our learning through the use of drones. We found a drone that you could code with Scratch, so that immediately took us a little deeper.”
Students in the Learning Village begin learning to code with ScratchJr in Kindergarten. Incorporating coding into a potential Grades K – 4 drone program seemed like a natural fit. The Quest students then visited Mr. Raffinan’s Grade 3 class and interviewed his students about what they’d like to learn about drones. The younger students came up with a list, including how to use a controller, how to take pictures with drones, how to do drone tricks, who uses drones in real life, and more.
Following these interviews, the Quest students planned a drone workshop for Mr. Raffinan’s class. They devised, among other things, a drone obstacle course, a station to learn tricks, and a demonstration of using virtual reality goggles with the drones. The first workshop highlighted a few problems for the Quest students, which they then reflected upon and changed the workshop to offer it a second time to another third grade class, and a third time to the third class.
“That’s where we are right now,” said Mathieson. “We’ve done three iterations of it and evaluated what worked and what didn’t work. When we sat down and de-briefed we identified who had certain strengths and who had certain interests. Our next step is to devise a workshop for Kindergarten. The Quest students are getting quicker at realizing what is working and what isn't. They are adapting their plans on the spot and creating experiences that are memorable for all."