Drones are the future, and the future is in the hands of the next generation! This means you don’t have to be a teacher to be the driving force in creating a ‘drone culture’ at your school. Here are some of the things I’ve learned through starting my own Drone Club at my high school in regional Far North Queensland. Once you’ve got your drones, a Drone Club just needs 3 simple elements to take off…
You can start by inviting students to an information session. But be aware that if 20 show up only 8 may be interested, and they could easily lose interest! Here are some of the best ways I’ve found to grab student’s attention:
- Fly! Pick a wide-open common area in the school and fly a drone. Invite students to have a go (using an appropriately sized drone).
- Ask friends or teachers to help do a coding presentation on parade – flipping and spinning drones grab attention quickly!
- A Challenge. Some students are competitive, and a small drone competition may be what they need to get enough interest in a Drone Club.
Gullara and the first members of the Drone Club who went on to become mentors and coordinators of the Club.
Gaining initial interest is the easy part, and you will probably have lots of students show up to your first meeting! However, some students are bound to lose interest or forget to come to meetings. Or you might have the opposite problem – where more students show up than expected! This is when you need the next element, organization.
There are three parts to the organisation of a Drone Club that will keep the club running smoothly:
- A Defined Area. This should be a single consistent location where all students (whether they are a part of the Drone Club or just interested in finding out more) can go to attend meetings. This means participants aren’t running around to find where the next meeting is and makes it easier for them to show up time after time.
- Timetable. As well as knowing where they’re going – it’s crucial for students to know when the meetings are held. Make it consistent! For example, if a drone meeting is held every first break on Wednesday at 11:40am, students eventually will develop a habit of coming.
- Team Leadership. It doesn’t have to be teachers only, experienced students that want the role of assisting others should be able to take charge during Drone Club activities. It gives participating students something to aspire to and a way to improve their leadership and communication abilities. It will also help the coordinating teachers to have better supervision of new pilots. It’s also important to have a ‘Head’ of the Drone Club that directs most of the traffic and is always in the loop, like a School Principal.
Flying the same course and coding the same path over and over can easily become a broken record. It helps the newer members but bores the more experienced ones. Here are my three key tips for keeping students interested and engaged without causing disarray.
- K.I.S.S (Keep It Simple Silly). The best activities aren’t necessarily the most complex! Activities can be as simple as from a relay race, where new students fly set patterns at each station, i.e. the first student flies in the shape of a box at once station and then the next student flies in diagonals at the second station. For more experienced students, simply lining up chairs and flying under and over is a challenge, especially if pushed to do it within a set time limit.
- Activities can be based on an upcoming competition, i.e. practicing coding, flying, and using the accessories of a Parrot Mambo drone for an upcoming Tournament of Drones.
- Run a competition each term for the whole school to participate in. This will gather more interest and brings out the schools’ Drone Spirit. This competition can be set up however you can imagine – get creative! An example from our school was an obstacle course which included the use of Parrot Mambo accessories.
Starting a drone club at your school really is that simple! Once you’ve got drones – and you’ve introduced drone safety at the very beginning – all you need is interest, a set place and time, and some fun activities! Soon the sound of swarming mosquitoes and happy students will be heard throughout the school!
The First Ever Mareeba State High School Drone Club competing at the Tournament of Drones.
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We hope you’re feeling inspired by Gullara’s success story at her school! If you need further support and resources for getting your drone club off the ground, check out our website and our Classroom Drone Essentials program!
While you’re at it, why not partner with local industry to really get your drone club to take off? Check out David Capill’s success story from our most recent blog: Developing Quality STEM Programs in Schools!