On the 20th and 21st of November 2017, students at Rosyth Primary School had the opportunity to have a hands-on experience on drones normally reserved for older kids! The future of aerial transport and cinematography, we gave them the lowdown on how to set up, operate and fly their very own XM8 Skyhunter Drone so that they could bring their newfound drone expertise back home. Yes, that's right: the students got to keep their very own drone at the end of the day!
The program started with an awesome session of innovative icebreakers led by our very own senior instructor Hilman. He effectively took control of the group, made sure that the icebreakers were conducted smoothly and brought the children into a world of fun. However, the slowest participant in the icebreaker games had to do a forfeit, and this person was none other than our very own instructor Ron! Check out the incredible chicken dance he did!
The first objective on the students' quest to become a master drone pilot was to design their own launch and landing pads for the drones. Each group was given two pieces of mahjong paper and had to exercise their creativity and teamwork to craft the most beautiful and impactful launch pad design suitable for their drones. The team which designed the best landing pad were given a reward as well!
Afterwards, we had several video presentations conducted by the Coach-in-Charge, Eugene, on the capabilities and functions of the drone that would soon reach the hands of the children. The kids were given an overview on about the basics of drone physics and aerodynamics, thus giving them a headstart in the world of STEM.
Soon, it was time for the students to claim their very own Skyhunter drone. The first thing taught to them was drone safety and they were given several ground rules they had to follow to ensure that both they and their friends were safe during drone flight. If need be, our instructors would immediately conduct an emergency stop on the student's controller to prevent any injuries to people and property.
Then, it was time for the flights to begin! Guided by the stable hands of our instructors, the students progressively learnt basic flight techniques starting with take-off and hovering before moving on to altitude and directional control. Some children were naturals at manuevering the drone whilst others needed more practice with it, but through determination and guidance everyone was able to know how to fly their drone by the end of the day.
However, we did face some problems whilst conducting the drone flights. The main problem was that since the drones and the controllers for them were paired based on radio frequency, often times students would pair with another person's drone and unwittingly control it instead, leading to some instances of runaway drones! This was eventually solved by getting students to go to the side and pairing their drones and controller there, and if it seems that one person's controller was not directing his/her own drone the instructor would immediately execute an emergency stop and solve the confusion.
After a delicious lunch, the participants continued to learn advanced drone techniques. They were introduced to specific phrases related to drone movement such as pitch, yaw and roll and they even learnt how to do 360 degree flips with their drone! But the most important skill they learnt was how to take pictures and record videos on their drone through an app on their mobile device. The students were then introduced to the exciting world of cinematography and video editing through a presentation by our lecturer Benjamin, an expert on all things video. He brought them through a crash course on video production and editing through a mobile app, and by the end of the day they were all amateur movie directors!
This was also an opportunity solve another problem we faced. For safety reasons, only one student per group could fly his/her drones in their sector; this means that whilst one kid was piloting the drone, the other kids would have nothing to do. To solve this, we instructed them to take photos and videos of the current pilot and the tricks he was executing in order to gather content for their video editing segment. Apart from that, we also had the other students take on the role of drone navigator and retriever to give them a sense of fulfillment even when they were not the pilot.
The highlight of the day was soon approaching: the exciting drone obstacle course and race. The best pilots were selected from each of the groups and had to manuever their drone across a challenging series of obstacles. These included flying through a hula hoop, landing on a chair and more. The fastest pilot to accomplish these tasks would earn him/herself and his team a valuable prize!
After that, it was time to bid the students goodbye. With their very own drones in their hands, they returned home with the brightest smiles on their faces. It was a shame to see them go, but the silver lining which lay in our farewell was that they would carry their newfound interest and expertise in drones for the rest of their lives.
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