Young aviators at Weber Middle School

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Young aviators at Weber Middle School
Students learn to navigate their drones during Weber’s aeronautics course. (Courtesy of PWSD)

Carrie Palmer Weber Middle School launched a seventh-grade aeronautics course to teach students about the physics of flight and some of the more practical applications of remote-piloted aircraft through the use of drones.

Thanks to a grant from the Weber Home School Association, this hands-on course gives students the ability to experience regular “flight time” using quadcopter drones. They also learn about quadcopter construction, including motors and onboard sensors including the gyroscope (for stabilization), barometer (for measuring atmospheric pressure to determining altitude) and more.

“We thought this course would be something our students would get a kick out of,” said Weber technology teacher Scott VanKurin, who wrote the curriculum for the course and teaches it. “Drones are being used more and more in everyday life. We are always looking at what we can teach our kids to prepare them for the unknown future.”

VanKurin covers emerging careers that are developing from drone use, such as in agriculture, search and rescue, law enforcement, surveying, topography mapping, moviemaking, photography, news reporting, real estate, package delivery and more. The course also touches on the ethics of using drones, including privacy issues.

Students have the opportunity to navigate the drones through obstacles and complete flight missions, including taking pictures with the onboard camera. The curriculum also complements other Weber technology courses such as architecture, multimedia, 3D printing, and robotics.

“The Weber HSA is very fortunate to have a group of tech teachers who are constantly looking to improve or implement new exciting units year after year,” said Weber HSA co-president Mathieu Lafant. “Their new aeronautics unit is another example of their effort to instruct and provide our children with additional forward-thinking tools to help develop their sense of discovery, creativity, and imagination. The Weber HSA is very proud to be able to fund this new program and we can only thank our entire school community for their generous donations to our Home School Association, which make teachers’ innovative initiatives like this possible.”

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