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UAS High School Class

gwinja

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I have started teaching a drones class as part of our automation engineering pathway at my local high school. A donor recently made a $10,000 donation to the drones program. I'm wondering what I should spend it on. We already have a couple dozen entry level camera quads. One dji mavic 2 pro.

I'm thinking about getting into FPV drones, but don't know which way is up w/r/t those. Any suggestions? I should add that most of my students are first time flyers and can crash them faster than I can fix them.
 

Dave Pitman

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The M2P is capable of waypoint flight. Perhaps an academic subscription or software for photogrammetry and 3D modeling, GIS, and agriculture. Of course the instructor will also need to get up to speed. Drones are tools.
 

MapMaker53

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Sounds like an enjoyable venture. When it comes to repairing the crashed drones, I would hope you would include those repair sessions as part of the course itself. Regarding equipment, my first thought was a large screen tv for the classroom so the student's photos and videos can be easily shared with the class and discussed. I'd invest in a couple of strobe lights for each drone and probably a Marco Polo radio tracker for the pricier drones. For software, you'd probably want to purchase a few mapping software licenses. The free DaVinci Resolve video editing software would be good for the students to learn as well as a few Photoshop licenses for photo editing. Litchi is a great software to have for waypoint missions and other types of tracking options. A tie-in to GIS would be great, but that might be more of an advanced course as the students and instructor would probably need to have familiarity with that type of software as a separate course. (I'm not a GIS guy.) DJI now has a couple of ready-to-fly FPV drones to choose from. From an engineering standpoint, you'd probably want a mapping software for building/roof inspections that provides areas and volumes measurements. For learning to fly close to cell towers for inspection purposes, you might want to start with the top of the school flag pole. Best of luck with the course.
 
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BigAl07

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My thought process is a little less "acceptable" with most who are getting started in UAS today...

I think you should focus on "Build them/Repair them" UAS as opposed to focusing on Factory Built UAS (DJI etc). Build a solid foundation of the components and how they work together and grow from there.
 
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Ajkm

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Your first step, which you haven’t shared with us, is to analyze your learning objectives and the needs analysis you have presumably done for the course you teach. Without knowing those two elements, there’s not really any way anyone here (or you yourself) can answer your question in any meaningful way. “You should get X drone/software” is mostly meaningless in the absence of considering the detailed learning objectives of your course.

FWIW, I think BigAl again hits the nail on the head with his suggestion - but I suspect that may mean rewriting your learning objectives and redesigning your course.
 

skiptv

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You know, let's not over anywise here, the question was which drone. After actually training and gradating 1300 students, the best drone is the Mav Mini 2. The learning objects first and foremost is to learn how to fly the thing. Everything else comes after
 
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Ajkm

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You know, let's not over anywise here, the question was which drone. After actually training and gradating 1300 students, the best drone is the Mav Mini 2. The learning objects first and foremost is to learn how to fly the thing. Everything else comes after
You cannot possibly say that "the best drone is the Mav Mini 2" unless you know the learning objectives of the actual course being taught. For all we know, this could be entirely the wrong advice for this scenario, especially since the OP says that "most of my students are first time flyers and can crash them faster than I can fix them".

There are also multiple learning objectives for any educational course, and those objectives will determine what equipment best fits the needs of the class. "To learn how to fly the thing" may well not be - and some might say should not be - the foremost learning objective of the course being taught. A "Build them/Repair them" approach (as suggested by BigAl) may be a far better primary learning objective.
 
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SethB

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Programs at my college:
We have HS early entry and adjudicated youth engagement programs. There, they are building and flying fpv drones - looks way fun and engaging!

In my CTE digital media photo/video courses students are learning to fly on Tellos with controllers in the gym, before we go outdoors with Mavic 2 pro/zoom and an Inspire 2. A cool thing about Tellos that we may never explore is that they are open to coding hacks/programming, IIRC they use the Python language for programmed flight.

The Mini 2 seems to me a great learning drone and I’ve advised many to buy one. It does (almost) everything a Mavic-series drone does, and does it for less, with great portability for those who want to fly and film in the outdoors. We don’t have any in our program, they don’t seem the right solution for learn-to-fly in a multiuser beginner environment.

You can get 3 Tello packages for the price of one Mini 2, and they are much more durable. I have deliberately run them into walls at full-speed (test for the athletic director), and my assistant and I have both stuck our fingers in the whirling props; I felt we had to know. It does sting, but no broken skin.

On learning outcomes:
Our high school programs’ primary outcomes have to do with inspiration and engagement. Those are super valuable, yet I don’t see those words and concepts showing up in the academic-ese discussions of learning theory.

Our college-level courses *do* have published outcomes. PM me for links if interested. My school also has a GIS technician pathway with a UAS specialization.

See also the programs at Warren (county) Community College; they have a great college-level program.
 
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AMann

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Seth made a good point- If you are providing education for students to possibly becoming 107 holders, one thing to look ahead with is what then? Notice how many people post “how do I start a drone business?” and “how do I get into mapping?” Part of your curriculum should cover what’s next- maybe use some of the funding to get a educational account with some mapping programs and maybe even ESRI’s ARCGIS online program.
 

Ajkm

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Programs at my college:
We have HS early entry and adjudicated youth engagement programs. There, they are building and flying fpv drones - looks way fun and engaging!

In my CTE digital media photo/video courses students are learning to fly on Tellos with controllers in the gym, before we go outdoors with Mavic 2 pro/zoom and an Inspire 2. A cool thing about Tellos that we may never explore is that they are open to coding hacks/programming, IIRC they use the Python language for programmed flight.

The Mini 2 seems to me a great learning drone and I’ve advised many to buy one. It does (almost) everything a Mavic-series drone does, and does it for less, with great portability for those who want to fly and film in the outdoors. We don’t have any in our program, they don’t seem the right solution for learn-to-fly in a multiuser beginner environment.

You can get 3 Tello packages for the price of one Mini 2, and they are much more durable. I have deliberately run them into walls at full-speed (test for the athletic director), and my assistant and I have both stuck our fingers in the whirling props; I felt we had to know. It does sting, but no broken skin.

On learning outcomes:
Our high school programs’ primary outcomes have to do with inspiration and engagement. Those are super valuable, yet I don’t see those words and concepts showing up in the academic-ese discussions of learning theory.

Our college-level courses *do* have published outcomes. PM me for links if interested. My school also has a GIS technician pathway with a UAS specialization.

See also the programs at Warren (county) Community College; they have a great college-level program.
This is a really excellent analysis and commentary, Seth. We use Tellos for instruction at a third level institution (a graduate certificate commercial RPA program) for the very reasons you state - cheap, safe, unlikely to do much damage (and yes, we've stuck our fingers in the props for that very reason). Anything bigger can wait, and I'd certainly not start flying instruction with any of the Mavic series; they will cause damage and are expensive to lost when students inevitably crash them into things. The Tello is also the better option for indoor instruction in relatively confined environments.
 
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gwinja

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Your first step, which you haven’t shared with us, is to analyze your learning objectives and the needs analysis you have presumably done for the course you teach. Without knowing those two elements, there’s not really any way anyone here (or you yourself) can answer your question in any meaningful way. “You should get X drone/software” is mostly meaningless in the absence of considering the detailed learning objectives of your course.

FWIW, I think BigAl again hits the nail on the head with his suggestion - but I suspect that may mean rewriting your learning objectives and redesigning your course.
Thanks for your reply! For some background, the UAS class is part of our automation engineering pathway. It is only the second year offering the class. Also included in the pathway is Engineering 1, Engineering 2, Intro to 3D Printing, and AP Computer Science.

WRT UAS, Part 107 prep is a large component of the course. We spend around 40 days of instruction on 107 test prep.

My original vision for the class was a capstone course for students to apply the knowledge they've gained in my other engineering classes using drones. We design, build, and 3d print attachments for the quads and program the Tellos to autonomously complete simple missions. We also program the Tellos to fly courses and drop off lightweight cargos in specified locations.
 
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Ajkm

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Thanks for your reply! For some background, the UAS class is part of our automation engineering pathway. It is only the second year offering the class. Also included in the pathway is Engineering 1, Engineering 2, Intro to 3D Printing, and AP Computer Science.

WRT UAS, Part 107 prep is a large component of the course. We spend around 40 days of instruction on 107 test prep.

My original vision for the class was a capstone course for students to apply the knowledge they've gained in my other engineering classes using drones. We design, build, and 3d print attachments for the quads and program the Tellos to autonomously complete simple missions. We also program the Tellos to fly courses and drop off lightweight cargos in specified locations.
Thanks for the clarification - I suspect you are in the best position to decide what fits your learning objectives best, though it sounds like Tellos are doing the job just fine, so perhaps the flying is not actually the main consideration here. With the 3D Printing element, that might suggest the "build/fly/repair" suggestion by BigAl is the one that makes most sense, so might be a good focus for spending the money you have been given.

I think my point was that others, chiming in with somewhat dogmatic specific drone type suggestions, were missing the pedagogical point entirely. I think that a best-use scenario for the money might be in purchasing small, easily replaceable/repairable drones - or kits/plans for building their own (and learning about components, wiring, soldering etc) - than in buying a limited supply of more expensive aircraft.
 

Dave Pitman

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I think my point was that others, chiming in with somewhat dogmatic specific drone type suggestions, were missing the pedagogical point entirely. I think that a best-use scenario for the money might be in purchasing small, easily replaceable/repairable drones - or kits/plans for building their own (and learning about components, wiring, soldering etc) - than in buying a limited supply of more expensive aircraft.
If the overarching goal is to expose students to viable career paths, then learning how to use drones as tools in industry would seem more valuable use of time. I would guess that a major percentage of prefessionals using drones (among other tools) will not be replacing escs very often. Understanding software and workflows are where it is at.

I started out as a hobbiest and have built many multirotors. That experience, while nice, is not put to use in my commercial drone use. Learning and keeping up with best practices with software, flight and processing, is constant though.
 
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gwinja

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Programs at my college:
We have HS early entry and adjudicated youth engagement programs. There, they are building and flying fpv drones - looks way fun and engaging!

In my CTE digital media photo/video courses students are learning to fly on Tellos with controllers in the gym, before we go outdoors with Mavic 2 pro/zoom and an Inspire 2. A cool thing about Tellos that we may never explore is that they are open to coding hacks/programming, IIRC they use the Python language for programmed flight.

The Mini 2 seems to me a great learning drone and I’ve advised many to buy one. It does (almost) everything a Mavic-series drone does, and does it for less, with great portability for those who want to fly and film in the outdoors. We don’t have any in our program, they don’t seem the right solution for learn-to-fly in a multiuser beginner environment.

You can get 3 Tello packages for the price of one Mini 2, and they are much more durable. I have deliberately run them into walls at full-speed (test for the athletic director), and my assistant and I have both stuck our fingers in the whirling props; I felt we had to know. It does sting, but no broken skin.

On learning outcomes:
Our high school programs’ primary outcomes have to do with inspiration and engagement. Those are super valuable, yet I don’t see those words and concepts showing up in the academic-ese discussions of learning theory.

Our college-level courses *do* have published outcomes. PM me for links if interested. My school also has a GIS technician pathway with a UAS specialization.

See also the programs at Warren (county) Community College; they have a great college-level program.
I like the inspiration/engagement angle.

When I started the class, we bought 10 Tello TT's. They have ports which allow you to attach arduino compatible sensors. Great in theory, but my kids wrecked 5 of them last year because the wifi setup at our school often results in losing connection with students' phones. I'm also having a hell of a time with the repairs on those.
 

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