Drones part of curriculum in fifth-grade class

Bellefonte Area School District  |  Posted on

A national STEM project in association with Engine of Central Pennsylvania through Penn State is allowing one Pleasant Gap Elementary School teacher the chance to bring real-world science, technology, engineering and math opportunities to the classroom through the use of drones.

Fifth-grade teacher Adam Gearhart said he’s been training this spring on curriculum established by Pitsco that allows him to facilitate class lessons with drones as the focus of the units. What this additionally brings to his class, Gearhart said, it a variety of exercises that incorporate assembly, problem solving following directions and more. There is also a career connection that provides information and discussion on the kinds of professions tied to the assignments.

Pitsco is a Kansas-based educational organization that produces STEM opportunities for educators across the country. This particular endeavor offered a professional learning opportunity for grade 5-8 teachers from Pennsylvania on its Pitsco Drone Kit beta test program.

“The training was great,” Gearhart said. “We went over the lessons the students would go through as they were learning it in class, so we were tasked with all sorts of things to see how we could make it work.”

Gearhart was then provided with 17 drone prototypes, which allowed him to bring the six-week lesson to his students with a mission to assemble the drones, and find different ways to effectively and efficiently carry a payload.

“We can change the arm length, see how far the propellers are from the main body of the drone and see how it’s effected,” Gearhart said as he provided an example of the lesson. “Is it slower? Faster? What’s the reaction time? And then see how those things affect carrying the payload, which works on their problem-solving skills.”

Through the program, Gearhart can then provide feedback to Pitsco as they work to enhance curriculum and improve the quality of the drones. By next school year, he will also be provided more drones to use in class as he continues with the program.