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Much of what we teach has been enhanced by new methods, strategies, and technology. We’re living in a time where a technology-rich, student-centered classroom should exist.

Teachers are not necessarily challenged with the content they teach but in how it’s delivered. Many subjects are just plain difficult to deliver in a “digital wrapper”.

Here are a few ideas on how drone technology can be integrated in fun and creative ways into everyday lessons.

The Volaré Project

Giving teachers an innovative approach to teaching
Giving students an innovative perspective to learning




After each example is a list of suggested applicable standards for high school. This is not an exhaustive list as teachers who utilize drones in the classroom may apply lessons that cover other standards or lessons not presented here. Standards are displayed in italics.

Math Example

In math, students can determine optimal routes for travel by considering angles, weight, height, and speed. Students could also solve systems of linear equations by flying a distance, recording their data, and solve with multiple methods, or apply their flight data to estimating and measuring units of length.

Geometry: Congruence G-CO, Similarity, Right Triangles, and Trigonometry G-SR, Geometric Measurement and Dimension G-GM, Modeling with Geometry G-MG

Statistics: Interpreting Categorical and Quantitative Data S-ID, Making Inferences and Justifying Conclusions S-IC

Science Example

For science classes, we open a whole new way to introduce science literacy by taking students on a trip around the school after a rain or snow storm to observe the effects of weather upon our school campus. 

Drones provide a new perspective on our existing lessons and can lead to exciting discoveries. A science teacher in the Sioux Falls Public School District offered some insight on how drones could be used in science classes.

“Sioux Falls is home to one of the most highly endangered ecosystems, the Prairie Pothole Region. Birds migrate to Sioux Falls area and suburbs to mate. However, because of recent development in the area, there are less and less of these pothole areas for birds to mate and the population is decreasing. What if you did aerial shots, had students graph those areas and identify the places where there are pothole regions and continue this project for a few years and see how it decreases? You could partner with Game, Fish and Parks or something cool like that.”

HS-LS2-1 Use mathematical and/or computational representations to support explanations of factors that affect carrying capacity of ecosystems at different scales. (SEP: 5; DCI: LS2.A; CCC: Scale/Prop.)

HS-LS2-2 Use mathematical representations to support and revise explanations based on evidence about factors affecting biodiversity and populations in ecosystems of different scales. (SEP: 5; DCI: LS2.A, LS2.C; CCC: Scale/Prop.)

HS-LS2-6 Evaluate the claims, evidence, and reasoning that the complex interactions in ecosystems maintain relatively consistent numbers and types of organisms under stable conditions; however, moderate to extreme fluctuations in conditions may result in new ecosystems. (SEP: 7; DCI: LS2.C; CCC: Stability/Change)

HS-LS2-7 Design, evaluate, and refine a solution for reducing the impacts of human activities on the environment and biodiversity.* (SEP: 6; DCI: LS2.C, LS4.D, ETS1.B; CCC: Stability/Change)

HS-LS2-8 Evaluate the evidence for the role of group behavior on individual and species’ chances to survive and reproduce. (SEP: 7; DCI: LS2.D; CCC: Cause/Effect)

Physical Science Example

Physical Science classes could study battery chemistry and capacity of different types of drones and other technologies. Discussion could also open up about the transmission between controller and device as an example of frequency and digital transmission (after making a few laps to liven the class).

HS-PS1-3 Plan and carry out an investigation to gather evidence to compare the structure of substances at the bulk scale to infer the strength of electrical forces between particles. (SEP: 3; DCI: PS1.A, PS2.B; CCC: Patterns)

HS-PS1-4 Develop a model to illustrate that the release or absorption of energy from a chemical reaction system depends upon the changes in total bond energy. (SEP: 2; DCI: PS1.A, PS1.B; CCC: Energy/Matter)

HS-PS1-5 Construct an explanation based on evidence about the effects of changing the temperature or concentration of the reacting particles on the rate at which a reaction occurs. (SEP: 6; DCI: PS1.B; CCC: Patterns)

HS-PS2-2 Use mathematical representations to support the claim that the total momentum of a system of objects is conserved when there is no net force on the system. (SEP: 5; DCI: PS2.A ; CCC: Systems)

HS-PS4-1 Use mathematical representations to support a claim regarding relationships among the frequency, wavelength, and speed of waves traveling in various media. (SEP: 5; DCI: PS4.A; CCC: Cause/Effect)

HS-PS4-2 Evaluate questions about the advantages of using a digital transmission and storage of information. (SEP: 1; DCI: PS4.A; CCC: Stability/Change, Technology)

Language Arts Example

English classes could study publications that debate the legal and ethical use of drones to help analyze the cumulative impact of word choices on meaning and tone. There are many differing viewpoints on drone technology. From these various accounts, the subject is reported in such a way that students can demonstrate in reading and writing which details are emphasized in each account. Students could also experience a variety of lessons writing research papers, argumentative essays, or narrative essays. An example for a narrative essay could be in response to an analysis of traffic patterns found from observing drop-off and pick-up of students before and after school.

9-10.RI.1 Cite strong and thorough textual evidence to support analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text.

11-12.RI.1 Cite strong and thorough textual evidence to support analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text, including determining where the text leaves matters uncertain.

9-10.RI.4 Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, including figurative, connotative, and technical meanings; analyze the cumulative impact of specific word choices on meaning and tone (e.g., how the language of a court opinion differs from that of a newspaper.)

11-12.RI.4 Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, including figurative, connotative, and technical meanings; analyze how an author uses and refines the meaning of a key term or terms over the course of a text (e.g., how Madison defines faction in Federalist No.10)

9-10.RI.7 Analyze various accounts of a subject told in different mediums (e.g., a person’s life story in both print and multimedia), determining which details are emphasized in each account.

11-12.RI.7 Integrate and evaluate multiple sources of information presented in different media or formats (e.g., visually, quantitatively) as well as in words in order to address a question or solve a problem.

Social Studies Example

Social studies students can explore how new technologies acquire, process, and report information. The need for accurate spatial data is needed for many industries on a day-to-day basis. Mapping from drones is now commonplace in industries like agriculture, energy, construction, real estate and the military. Another scenario could be finding vulnerabilities in an enemy defense during wartime or debating the use of drones in modern warfare. The Parrot Mambo has the capability to attach a small toy cannon powerful enough to knock down plastic cups. Fun. Aside from practical applications that drones offer, students could build a scene to simulate a route taken by an assigned fugitive slave from the Underground Railroad (floor map not included in this project).

K-12.G.1 Students will apply geospatial resources, including data sources and geographic tools to generate, interpret, and analyze information.

9-12.G.1.1 Use maps and other geographic representations, tools and technologies to acquire, process, and report information from a spatial perspective.

K-12.G.2 Students will understand the nature and importance of the Five Themes of Geography; location, place, human-environment interaction, movement, and region.

9-12.G.2.1 Distinguish between the Five Themes of Geography and their key components.

9-12.G.2.2 Describe a given region or area utilizing the Five Themes of Geography.

K-12.H.3 Students will analyze and evaluate historical events from multiple perspectives.

9-12.H.3.3 Critique the development of American industrial society including its impacts on migration, systems of slavery, and the national economy. (Courses: Early, Comprehensive)

Computer Science Example

The AR.Drone 2.0 Power Edition Quadricopter has the capability of being programmed. For AP Computer Science A, students will use the downloadable software development kit to code custom routines, flight paths and flight patterns. For the Exploring Computer Science course, students begin planning an obstacle course that relates to a real-world disaster recovery scenario in the problem solving unit. Later in the semester, during the robotics unit, we use drones to simulate their disaster recovery obstacle courses.

INDICATOR #CP 1: Identify and use a programming environment.

SUB-INDICATOR 1.1 (Webb Level: 1): Demonstrate knowledge of external and internal computer hardware.

SUB-INDICATOR 1.2 (Webb Level: 1): Demonstrate knowledge of software concepts.

SUB-INDICATOR 1.3 (Webb Level: 2): Demonstrate the ability to compile, debug, and execute programs.

INDICATOR #CP 4: Apply control structures.

SUB-INDICATOR 4.1 (Webb Level: 2): Demonstrate the ability to use relational and logical operators in programs.

SUB-INDICATOR 4.2 (Webb Level: 3): Investigate conditional statements.

SUB-INDICATOR 4.3 (Webb Level: 3): Implement loops in programs.

INDICATOR #CP 5: Explore career opportunities in programming.

SUB-INDICATOR 5.1 (Webb Level: 1): Identify personal interests and abilities related to Computer Programming/Software Engineering careers.

SUB-INDICATOR 5.2 (Webb Level: 3): Investigate career opportunities, trends, and requirements related to computer programming/software engineering careers.

SUB-INDICATOR 5.3 (Webb Level: 2): Demonstrate job skills for programming industries.

Language Arts Standards: RI4, RI7, W1, W2, W4, W6

INDICATOR #IT 1: Understand the need and impact of technology.

SUB-INDICATOR 1.1 (Webb Level: 1): Define the relationship between electronic devices and computers.

SUB-INDICATOR 1.2 (Webb Level: 1): Describe the functional areas in which computers assist people.

SUB-INDICATOR 1.3 (Webb Level: 1): Describe how technology is impacting community.

SUB-INDICATOR 1.4 (Webb Level: 1): List physical and mental health dangers associated with computer use.

INDICATOR #IT 2: Understand computer hardware required to meet specific needs.

SUB-INDICATOR 2.3 (Webb Level: 2): Understand different types of memory and storage.

INDICATOR #IT 6: Understand the needs and uses for digital media. 

SUB-INDICATOR 6.1 (Webb Level: 1): Understand the uses of digital media.

SUB-INDICATOR 6.2 (Webb Level: 2): Discuss how interactive media is used to educate and entertain.

INDICATOR #IT 8: Understand technology ethics in a global society.

SUB-INDICATOR 8.2 (Webb Level: 2): Explain the ways in which technology is used to invade personal privacy.

SUB-INDICATOR 8.3 (Webb Level: 1): Identify ethical issues related to digital technology.

INDICATOR #IT 9: Explore careers in information technology.

SUB-INDICATOR 9.1 (Webb Level: 1): Identify skills, interests, and abilities related to information technology.

SUB-INDICATOR 9.3 (Webb Level: 3): Research labor market information for information technology.

SUB-INDICATOR 9.4 (Webb Level: 2): Demonstrate necessary job skills needed for Information and Technology industries.

Language Arts Standards: RI1, RI4, RI7

INDICATOR #RBT 1: Identify components of a robotic system.

SUB-INDICATOR 1.1 (Webb Level: 1 Recall): Describe the parts necessary to make a robot.

SUB-INDICATOR 1.2 (Webb Level: 2 Skill/Concept): Examine the relationships among the subsystems.

INDICATOR #RBT 2: Understand safety procedures and ethical issues inherent to robotics.

SUB-INDICATOR 2.1 (Webb Level: 2 Skill/Concept): Demonstrate proper safety procedures.

SUB-INDICATOR 2.3 (Webb Level: 2 Skill/Concept): Examine current ethical issues.

INDICATOR #RBT 3: Construct, analyze and troubleshoot circuits.

SUB-INDICATOR 3.2 (Webb Level: 3 Strategic Thinking): Calculate circuit parameters.

SUB-INDICATOR 3.3 (Webb Level: 3 Strategic Thinking): Measure circuits parameters.

SUB-INDICATOR 3.4 (Webb Level: 3 Strategic Thinking): Compare calculated and measured solutions to analyze circuit operation.

INDICATOR #RBT 5: Research career opportunities and industry applications.

SUB-INDICATOR 5.1 (Webb Level: 1 Recall): Explore career opportunities in the robotics field.

SUB-INDICATOR 5.2 (Webb Level: 3 Strategic Thinking): Investigate commercial application of robotic systems.

ELA Literacy and/or Math Standard: RBT 5.1, 68ETS12, 9-12-ETS1-2, 9-12-ETS1-3, CCSS.MATH.CONTENT.HSN.Q.A.1

This is not an exhaustive list of subjects or standards