Drone-based STEM education for Zimbabwean kids
Drone-based STEM education has made its first landing in Zimbabwe.
This follows the launch of the Drone in STEM Education project by local drone services company Zimbabwe Flying Labs, which is part of the Flying Labs network of drone service providers in the global south.
Done in association with Global Air Drone Academy, the project is aimed at equipping children aged between seven and eighteen years with the necessary Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematical (STEM) skills to prepare them for the jobs of the future.
And that is because the kind of careers many of them will lead in their adult lives do not even exist yet. So the challenge for today’s world is to ensure that the children have the capacity to upgrade themselves to the needs of the world they will be workers in when they grow up.
“It is important that young learners understand their world and develop a capacity to respond to challenges, now and in the future, in innovative, informed, personal and collective ways,” Zimbabwe Flying Labs says. “Technologies like drones provide learners with practical opportunities to think differently and become innovative developers of solutions.
“As the world adopts technologies like Drones, Robotics, Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning into everyday life, we must create authentic learning opportunities for young learners to engage, learn and lead in these spaces. The project is designed to give high level exposure to young learners in a fun, engaging and memorable way that will prepare them for the future of work.”
Educational drones are fast becoming an unto industry themselves, which has even inspired drone maker DJI to open up an educational drone section whose purpose, among others is to ensure that the Tello Drone is designed with the full capacity for educational purposes.
For this reason, DJI unveiled the new Robomaster TT Tello drone, which they say was made for the achievement of the classroom goals that Zimbabwe Flying Labs and its partners are hoping to achieve with their new project.
Starting on the first of June, the participating pupils will learn STEM concepts and other drone-centric fundamentals that include introduction to drone technology (drone safety, flight planning, take and landing protocols and basic drone manoeuvres); drone system design and assembly; and DroneBlocks.
DroneBlocks teaches STEM and the real-world application of drone technology through their free app, online curriculum, and professional development services. With a focus on real-world coding, the app features an intuitive drag-and-drop interface that lets students easily build a plan for their drone.
The company also offers a DroneBlocks Membership that provides access to online courses that walk students through coding drones — ideal for independent and remote learning during the pandemic.
Says Zimbabwe Flying Labs; “The growth and advancement of drone technology globally and its impact on the future of work across many sectors has created new careers, opportunities and a demand for skilled drone professionals. Drones are now being used in almost every industry, with more drone use cases still being developed.
“Below the surface of what most people think drones can do is a dynamic tool that combines the fields of mathematics, physics, geography and aviation. Using drones to teach STEM is one of the most intuitive ways to engage young learners.
“Drones in STEM can create student-centric learning environments, unlock new learning styles with drones, help students develop enterprise skills, teach students abstract concepts; and encourage active learning.
Before embarking on full operations this month, the Zimbabwean leg of the Flying Labs family first held short introductory drone courses for kids last December, whereupon they held weekend workshops that saw participating children getting acquainted with drone technology.
But with the project now in full swing, the introductory courses will run for three weeks, while the intermediate and advanced course will be eight weeks and ten weeks long respectively.