Tips when doing student activities

  • In another forum, someone asked for some tips. I provided the following information based on our recent college activity with 7th-9th grade students.

    If students have not done programming previously, start them in on the concepts of programming using Snap from the Lite lessons. With the Pro CoDrones, you have the ability to do both the Lite and Pro lessons. To do the Lite lessons, just disconnect the Bluetooth board from the Smart Inventor Board and connect the Bluetooth board to the computer.

    The advantage of starting with Snap is they can visually see how the programs are constructed. The block programming is like a bridge between pseudo coding and hand coding. The student can visually see how code works. However, there are some limitations with the Snap such as being able to pair to a specific drone address.

    After doing the Snap, progress them into Arduino programming. With the Arduino, there are additional quirks you'll need to overcome such as compiling and the errors you would commonly encounter. Some warnings during compilation you could even ignore.


    • Drone pairing - If you have more than 5 drones in a given area, you will have issues with pairing. Move additional students outside of the area temporarily in order to pair and they can fly their drone back into the area.

    • Picking up a drone - If a drone stops, make sure the students pick it up by cupping their hands around the edges of the guard. Do not pick it up by the center with fingers. Drones can unexpectedly start up if someone accidentally pairs to it or the program hasn't finished running.

    • Always program a kill switch - Whether Snap or Arduino, program a kill switch to stop it at the press of a button.

    • Program a battery check - The battery life is very short at about 8 minutes. Program a battery check that can be run when a key is pressed. If the battery is low, the drone behavior is less predictable and may not fly.

    • Controller building - Review the images of the completed controller and observe how they routed the wiring so that it is not flopping around loosely. If the wiring is flopping around, it could interact with the IR sensors under the Smart Inventor Board. Also, when building the controller, you'll need a nut driver to tighten the nuts slightly more than finger tight as over a short time, the controllers will become loose.

    • Drone batteries - Each student should have at least 2-3 batteries per drone.

    • When programming the controller - At the end of the lesson or activity, always load the default flight control program back into the controller.

    • When programming flight events - Know that the events will behave differently for each drone. You can run two drones through the same program and get vastly different flight characteristics. Things that contribute to this variance are: battery level, motor friction (hair, debris, prop pushed on too tight, etc.), air currents, etc. Even the same program run on the same drone can behave differently when it is run again.

    • Program as a minimum three things: battery check, kill switch, and the actual flight program.

    • As the instructor, first go through each of the lessons and make any notes on what would need to be clarified or could be done better and verify that the lesson works as designed.

  • @garyt You're awesome! These are all great recommendations.

    happy crying

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