So, today was the drone activity that we've been preparing for over the last month. The event was in support of the Girls in ICT Day that was celebrated today, 4/26. All the campuses in Baker brought in 7th through 9th grade girls to learn concepts in the ICT field through programming drones. In the morning they got to build out the controllers and fly the drones. In the afternoon, they got to work on reprogramming the drones using a computer. Concepts we covered were computers, communications, and programming. We discussed how these skills they were being introduced into could lead to futures in the STEM areas. We associated the skills to the concepts of how NASA controls things like the Mars rover.
While building the controllers in the morning, one could readily tell which students were shy and unsure of their skills. But through gentle discussion and coaching, they successfully built the controllers. When they were successful in getting it linked to their drones and they took off, all that shyness disappeared and their were all over the activity area having a good time.
During lunch we showed a brief video of the Mars rover and discussed how the concepts used in these drones would apply to something as advanced as the rover. When they went back to the activity area, we demonstrated the flight program and then walked through the block coding they were going to experiment with to see the effects. We were able to throw in some physics concepts such as force, momentum, friction, gravity, and how an object, once in motion, will tend to stay in motion until you provide an equal force in the opposite direction for a small impulse of time, i.e. braking thrusters. When they began experimenting the programs they had just as much fun in figuring out how to change the flight patterns.
After all the activities were done, the girls were encouraged to discuss their experiences. Many stood up and their thoughts were heart warming. They really enjoyed the day, what they learned, and how encouraged they were in taking on challenges.
Some parents, school counselors, and teachers that came with them also provided their feedback. They were not expecting the level of dynamic and enjoyable activities the students experienced.
My personal highlights were seeing the girls succeed in their activities and having fun while doing so. There were some shy ones that once they started flying their shyness was abated. Some were unsure of their skills and once encouraged, they succeeded while having fun.
More information about Girls in ICT Day: