School District Pilots Extracurricular Drone Club

By B.N. Frank

Despite crashes, privacy invasiveness, and other complaints about drones, they seem to be getting more popular with businesses who want to use them for delivering orders and for people who want to use them recreationally.  Now one school district is partnering with a university to start a drone club for students.

From GovTech:

Ocosta School District Piloting Extracurricular Drone Club

Inspired by a pitch from a team at the University of Washington, the district wants to start an after-school club to teach students about drone operations and allow them to pursue an FFA drone license.

(TNS) — The Ocosta School District is always looking for volunteers with unique skills to volunteer to teach its after-school programs. These skills can run from sewing and quilting to woodworking and — drone piloting?

Ocosta schools Director of After School Programs Andrea Mirante said she was approached by Dan Abramson from the University of Washington, who has been involved with mapping projects in the area in recent years, about a drone club for students. The district is now seeking volunteer instructors for the club and other after-school programs.

“Their whole project team up at the University of Washington pitched this idea of a drone club here at Ocosta,” said Mirante. “I was really excited about it and thought that the students would not only benefit academically from it, but just be given this opportunity that’s really exciting and interesting and fun. And it’s right up their alley, as far as technology goes, creating a space that really gives them the opportunity to explore their creative minds.”

The school had four drones that had never been flown. The University of Washington team got them to the manufacturer, who did upgrades, “and now we have all four working drones,” said Mirante.

The drone club will offer students instruction “covering all the operations of a drone,” said Mirante. “How to use it, how to work with it, how to take photos.”

The University of Washington drone club is designed to help students learn about drones covering their related regulations, operations, and applications so as to identify possible drone applications for community projects. For example, Westport infrastructure monitoring, tsunami search, and rescue drill; provide opportunities for passive outreach to the broader community through student participation and interactions with city agencies and UW experts; provide a vehicle to conduct research on student resilience and community asset priorities and to extend participatory planning activities beyond Westport’s adult population; and assist students to get drone certification license (pilot 107) to help their future career.

Participants 16 and older who take on the program and complete it would be able to obtain their FFA drone license, said Mirante.

“We are gearing the program toward junior/senior high students, but if maybe some sixth graders wanted to join in we’d permit that as well, depending on how many occupants we have with the program,” said Mirante. “Preferably 16 and older so that they can experience possibly taking the course for obtaining their FFA drone license.”

Ocosta’s after-school programs begin Monday, Sept. 13; the drone club would take flight Friday, Oct. 1, from 2:45-5:30 p.m.

Now they’re looking for instructors.

“We would appreciate people that either have their FFA drone certification, or are technologically savvy and would go through the course that we can help provide for them to get them certified with their license,” said Mirante.

Mirante said the district is always seeking volunteers for its after-school programs, not just for the drone club.

We are always looking for people who have a certain craftsmanship, or skill, or talent that they would be willing to share with our students, anybody that can do any sort of woodworking, or quilting, or sewing,” she said. “We need people in all sorts of areas.”

The school has a working partnership with the South Beach Arts Association, which did an art project with the school district during its summer school program. The district also works closely with Grays Harbor Youth Works to provide students with internship and job shadowing opportunities. Mirante said YMCA of Grays Harbor is “our main partnership” that provides the district with employees high school age and older.

But it’s community volunteers that are needed for the after-school programs. If you have a skill you think might be a good fit, contact Mirante at or 360-268-9125 ext. 2021. Volunteers will of course have to pass a volunteer background check.

YouTube has a large collection of videos with drone crashes and near misses as well as drone pilot injuries.  This being the case, hopefully the school district has contacted its insurance providers and added more liability coverage.

Activist Post reports regularly about unsafe technology.  For more information, visit our archives.

Image: Pixabay

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