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Buy These Microdrones for Your Classroom

Students using microdrones in the classroom

We often get asked, ‘Which drone should I buy for our school?’ If you’re starting out with drones and deciding what your classroom needs, we recommend you head over to our Ultimate Guide to Buying a Drone for Your School. This guide outlines everything from whether drones are right for your school, to what size drone is right for your classroom needs. 

Microdrones (drones that weigh less than 100 grams) are great for schools just getting started as they are cheap, and the risk profile is relatively low. We have a nine-year-old son who has been using microdrones since he was five. Young students can use microdrones, but the younger they are, the more space they need to fly as their hand-eye coordination isn’t well advanced. And expect more crashes!

If you already know that microdrones are right for your classroom, stick with us as we guide you through our recommendations from many years of trial and error. If you’re still deciding, we’ll see you back here after you’ve taken a look at our Ultimate Guide!

Think you know what drone you want to buy? She Maps provides STEM Gear at an educational discount to teachers in Australia through trusted Australian owned distributors. 

What to look for when buying microdrones for schools

There are so many microdrones on the market, but a lot of them are designed for hobbyists or drone racing, not educational use.

This is what we look for in the sub 100g category, in priority order.

  • Price point that is affordable for schools to buy multiple craft.
  • The drone has electronic stabilisation to make flying much easier.
  • It can be coded using block coding and preferably other types of coding such as Java and Python.
  • It has at least a forward-facing camera, but preferably a downward facing camera.
  • It has a range of accessories, including spare batteries and a separate battery multi charge.
The three microdrones that we cover in this guide, include these considerations in our comments.

DJI / Ryze Tello

DJI Tello for classroom use

She Maps provides STEM Gear at an educational discount to teachers in Australia through trusted distributors. 

The Tello came out in 2018 and they released a Tello EDU in late 2018. We have been testing and using the Tello and Tello EDU since late 2018. Overall it is a great drone to fly and is our preferred drone. Here are our comments:

  • It is a well priced micro drone at $169 for the Tello and $219 for the EDU (you can get a discount through us);
  • The largest difference between the Tello and Tello EDU is that the EDU allows more access to the Software Developers Kit (SDK), which is good for students wanting to do more advanced coding and access the AI functionality. The rest of the drone is essentially the same as the Tello;
  • It has a good forward-facing camera that takes photos and video. It doesn’t have a downward facing camera that is accessible;
  • Both the Tello and Tello EDU can be coded using block coding within the Tello EDU app, or DroneBlocks, which also supports line coding too.
  • The battery life is around 11 minutes of flying in normal conditions (advertised at 13 minutes, but this is likely in perfect conditions);
  • As an additional safety feature it has an interesting cage that you can buy to completely cover the propellers;
  • While created by the brand Ryze, it is using technology from drone and technology juggernauts DJI and Intel respectively;
  • We have found that the Tello EDU has some wifi interference issues when multiple drones are flying at once, controlled by separate tablets if using the black Tello app. This means that connections between drones and the tablets are lost and landing or controlling drones becomes problematic. This is likely caused by the camera streaming and taking up bandwidth. This is resolved, if you are flying multiple drones in the classroom, by using the Tello Edu app (orange one), as it doesn’t stream the video

She Maps provides STEM Gear at an educational discount to teachers in Australia through trusted distributors. 

CoDrone 

The CoDrone is another micro drone that we have tested recently as well. Here are our comments on it:

  • It is more expensive than the Tello, but in our opinion not as good a drone.
  • It is not as stable in flight as the Tello and tiny amounts of a breeze make it drift.
  • A camera is an optional extra.
  • It comes with a remote controller (for the CoDrone Pro at $269) that you can build – watch our then eight-year-old build it. But the pieces are fragile looking so we’re unsure how long it would last being built and taken apart multiple times.
  • It can be coded using block coding in its native app from Petrone.

 

Parrot Mambo

Parrot mambo drone

This was our preferred drone, but just before Christmas in 2018 they all went on sale and then were discontinued. Stocks are low and it is unlikely you will find any left (in Australia at least).

The Mambo is what we used in our programs for two years and it is a great drone for the following reasons:

  • Price point was around AU$99.
  • It is stable in flight.
  • It has a downward facing camera which is good for doing mapping activities which align nicely to industry applications for the curriculum.
  • It works well with Tynker for block coding, as well as Python and other more advanced scripting languages.
  • Is sturdy and manages the rigours of students and classrooms.
  • Has an inbuilt LEGO attachment and other accessories that you could purchase.

Other Options

No doubt there are many other options available out there for micro drones, but here is what we look for in the sub 100g category, in priority order.

  • Price point that is affordable for schools to buy multiple craft;
  • The drone has electronic stabilisation to make flying much easier;
  • It can be coded using block coding and preferably other types of coding such as Java and Python;
  • It has a range of accessories, including spare batteries and a separate battery multi charge;
  • It has at least a forward-facing camera, but preferably a downward facing camera.

Our Recommendations

We recommend the Tello if you are just starting your drone fleet at school! 

We don’t believe that the Tello EDU provides extra benefits through the SDK for the majority of schools.

The CoDrone is more expensive than the Tello, but the capability of the Tello is superior. The Mambo is a great drone, but isn’t widely available anymore. 

If purchasing the Tello, then the Tello Boost Combo is a well-priced pack that includes three batteries and a charging hub per drone, which is essential for school programs.

We would only recommend the Tello EDU for schools that are looking to do more advanced coding with their students, and if your school has an advanced IT capability (or up for a large challenge!) to work through the set up.

Where to buy

We sell the Tello at Education Rates for teachers in Australia through our trusted distributor. 

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