Teaching coding with drones to both teachers and students has made me a bit envious of current students and the opportunities given to them to learn in a fun and engaging manner. When I was attending school, teachers had a tendency to shy away from questions like, “How does what I’m learning now apply to ‘real life’ jobs and situations?” For example, I was never told that my knowledge of interior and exterior angle relations could be applied in the real world.
Students and Drones: Emerging Skill Sets
Now, with drones, we are starting to apply concepts that students haven’t and won’t formally learn in school for years. Currently, a student learns trigonometry in the classroom between the ages of 15 and 18. When working with drones, students around the ages of 12 and 13 are encouraged to apply trigonometric principles and show a strong understanding of what a sine wave is.
Students are capable of learning complex concepts that they weren’t taught in school yet when stimulated the right way. I rarely hear the question, as a STEAM coach: “How do we apply this in real life?” Instead, I see students eager to complete the current lesson and wanting to move on to the next. Beyond them being able to grasp an understanding of these concepts, I also see students having a great time working with the drones. As a teacher, it’s refreshing to see them having fun in a learning environment.
New Tools Inspire Teachers
I see the same engagement and excitement that the students experience when working with teachers. Teachers are excited to wrap their minds around the new tools they learn in our workshops and how they can apply the drones in the classroom.
Any teacher who is looking to take on a new classroom tool, specifically something technology-oriented, must become comfortable with a couple of things. The first is teaching simultaneously to students who have different levels of knowledge and comfortability with technology. Some students find the curriculum easier to grasp than others. For students who have trouble taking on new concepts, I try to increase their confidence by enabling them to cooperate with one another. The second thing that teachers must become comfortable with is transferring into a ‘Coach’ role.
Taking Learning to the Next Level
When students are super motivated to learn on their own, I usually notice that they quickly move beyond what the teacher has taught them. As a coach, the teacher must also be comfortable with discussing ideas with the students, helping them break down large issues into component parts, and pointing them towards the necessary resources to further their knowledge. One of the most obvious things that allows educators to understand how different modern students’ education is compared to their own, is the concept of the XYZ plane. I only learned about the XY coordinate plane with a slight mention of the Z axis when I was a student. Nowadays, students learn directions and concepts associated with the XYZ plane, prior to it being mentioned in school, very rapidly as a result of playing games, like Minecraft, and interacting with 3D learning such as with drones.
Anyone who witnesses how students are learning today should be pleasantly surprised with how quickly and willingly they are able to grasp the content. There are still schools that have not yet taken up these practices. Our mission is to help them move in the right direction to harness the power, value and fun of emerging technologies like drones to educate new generations of learners.