CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa – Flying plastic foam planes with attached cameras helped some Cedar Rapids middle schoolers experience what drones can do.
The 53 students from Franklin Middle School were participating in the 4-H National Youth Science Drone Discovery Day, Oct. 13 at their school. 4-H youth specialists from Iowa State University Extension and Outreach led activities during the school day to help the students learn about the forces of flight and organized an evening program to celebrate their achievements.
The middle school students made gliders to learn how an aircraft lifts off the ground and maneuvers in the air. They also learned how computer coding can control a drone aircraft. As they flew their camera-equipped plastic foam planes, they captured video footage, enabling them to see what their drone could “see.”
In addition, they used iPad apps to observe changes in airflow around plane wings. They also were able to “fly” drones over the Cedar Rapids area using a computer flight simulation.
The students are part of Franklin Middle School’s Knowledge-based Inquiry through Teamwork and Exploration program – also known as KITE. KITE offers a flexible approach to a “traditional” classroom. The students in KITE receive curricular work in language arts, literacy science and social studies. KITE also emphasizes community involvement and project-based work. The program helps students’ learning and personal growth.
4-H youth field specialist Eric Savage and ag engineer Kapil Arora, both with ISU Extension and Outreach, planned activities for the 4-H National Youth Science Day program along with Amanda Boyer and John Hebrink, two KITE teachers who are also 4-H alumni.
Savage said, “The 4-H National Youth Science Day is a wonderful opportunity to engage children in STEM. Conducting this year’s challenge, ‘Drone Discovery,’ at Franklin Middle School truly demonstrates the powerful impact partnerships have on learning communities.”
More than 50 parents and guests came to the evening event. Students were able to show off their communications skills by introducing and recognizing those involved in the program. Students also had the opportunity to teach guests about all of the activities that they learned throughout the day. Brett Hoben from Federal Aviation Administration shared the rules and regulations dealing with the drones. Kapil Arora demonstrated a Phantom drone flight.
The National 4-H Council and US Cellular provided sponsorship and support for the 4-H National Youth Science Day activities, Savage said.