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Connecting Students to the Environment Through Drones

As part of our EduDrone conference last year, we were fortunate enough to have Keni Rienks, US Upper School Science Teacher, ocean activist, and STEAM advocate talk to us about incorporating drones into the classroom. 

While doing her Masters of Environmental Management at Duke University, it came to her attention that there were not enough college and graduate students coming through with drone experience.

We teamed up with Keni and Duke University to run our Certified Educator training to help enable them to bridge that gap. 

Introducing drones into the classroom

Keni has high school Physics, Earth Science, and Environmental Earth Science classes. As part of her thesis, she looked at how drone curriculum is created so that it is effective outside the classroom. 

Real world outcomes or applications are important here. As Keni mentions, this aligns with every part of the curriculum in the US (and in Australia).

Part of Keni’s goal in incorporating this into the classroom is around how we get kids outside and connecting with the environment around them. But flying a drone outdoors can feel a little intimidating for kids using them for the first time (and teachers too!) so she recommends using a microdrone indoors as teachers begin their student’s drone education.

If you’re wondering which microdrone is right for you, check out our article on the subject.

Teaching with drones outside

When using drones to educate outside, Keni recommends looking for environmental factors that are specific to where you are – these will be a lot more meaningful to students. That could be:

  • Mapping beach erosion
  • Mapping pollution
  • Mapping development and monitoring habitat loss and fragmentation
  • Monitoring native/invasive species
  • Work with local agriculture

Drones are a fantastic way to help students see how important STEM is to our world and, for teachers who can take drones outside and teach about the environment, your real life applications are on your doorstep. 

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