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Drones Can Be Fun and Educational

The students and teachers in the quad all looked up too, shielding their eyes to see the drone fly. Our custodians pulled up in their cart, and my assistant principal whooped like one of the middle schoolers on my campus.

Heather Wolpert-Gawron
November 12, 2015

1. Social Studies: Have students participate in kinesthetic cartography: Draw a map of the world in chalk and have the students “migrate” or conquer areas to show the spread of different empires. Photograph or record their movements to chronicle historical changes.

2. Language Arts: Illustrate different points of view. Take photos of little-seen areas of the school, and have students write guesses about where the photo might have been taken.

3. PE: Send the drone up during PE class to record students demonstrating a particular play. Have students watch the footage and discuss where they should have been and what they can do better.

4. Math: Create a gigantic graph. I spoke to Jim Bentley, a middle school teacher and a Buck Institute for Education national faculty member who has recently seen the value in using his new school drone to teach math. He told me, “Filmmaking is a key ingredient in our classroom. We recently obtained a drone to capture aerial footage for films we produce in conjunction with our city’s integrated waste department. But I realized that if we built a large four-quadrant graph on the playground with chalk, we could also use our drone to practice landing on different ordered pairs. With a drone, the sky’s the limit for what we could learn.”

5. Science: Look at the micro world and the macro world and the patterns repeated in each.

6. Community Building: Produce a video. We’ve seen lip-dubbed videos on YouTube. You no longer need to rent a crane (expensive) or borrow a wheelchair—as I once did—to use as a cheap, but bumpy, Steadicam. Drones allow you to see the school from above, and that can be very celebratory.

7. Current Events: Debate. What about privacy issues? What is the future of our workforce if companies like Amazon use drones for deliveries? Are drones a good technology, or are we one step closer to automaton domination?

8. Social and Emotional Learning: In terms of social and emotional learning, drones give students glimpses of themselves and their place in the world. This technology could help students visualize themselves as being a part of something greater while also helping them keep their me-me-me-ness in perspective. For tweens and teens at least, feeling a little “smaller” might help their decision-making in such a self-centric time of life.

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