On November 21, 2021, NCAT held a day camp at the Grand Forks Air Force Base for students in grades 5-8 to introduce them to drones and career pathways for working in the drone industry. 14 students from GFAFB schools and the local community attended the camp and had access to not only fly drones, but learn how to program the drones for autonomous flight.
The GFAFB one-day camp was an opportunity for NCAT to test a new format for a DRONETECH half-day workshop. The goal of this new format was to have a flight-intensive experience to maximize engagement and provide context for classroom education. “Students arrived at 9:00 and were immediately introduced to flying sUAS,” stated Aaron Sykes, NCAT STEAM Outreach Coordinator. “Getting drones into the kids’ hands right when they walked in the door was our goal to foster engagement and spark interest right away,” said Sykes.
The students were broken into teams and were given 45 minutes to free-fly under the observation and direction of the DRONETECH staff. Following the flight activity, students were brought into the classroom and were given an overview of drone history, hardware technology, sensor technology, use cases, and careers in the drone industry.
Following the classroom activity students were given the opportunity to hone their drone racing skills and learn the fundamentals of Scratch. The activity was centered around the concept of each team fielding one racer and one program to run the drone race course to determine a winner. Manual flight championships were held, but due to environmental issues, the Scratch race was unable to be held.
Ending the camp was a on-site tour of Northrop Grumman at Grand Sky, which provided the students will a first-hand look inside what a career working in the drone industry would look like.
Overall the one-day DRONETECH camp was a hit for the students who attended and NCAT is already working with the Grand Forks Air Force Base on future camp planning!