Enriching Kids Lives With Drone Summer Camps

It’s been a long school year for Kindergarten through 12th grade students and families across the country. Kids everywhere are ready to jump into the swing of summer. Getting endless time to enjoy all the fun and freedom that comes with summer vacation. But for many parents and guardians, they are left scrambling to find ways to keep kids engaged and safely entertained until they can send them back to school in the fall.

Luckily there are plenty of ways to keep kids busy during the summer months. Over the past few years, many communities have begun offering STEM (Science Technology Engineering, and Mathematics) summer programs. These STEM programs build off of what educators implement during the school year. Studies have shown that a strong STEM curriculum can do wonders for introducing kids to areas that will eventually shape their future. As Bridget Long, dean of the Harvard Graduate School of Education, said during the Harvard sponsored symposium New Pathways to STEM, “The importance of STEM education is about so much more than just jobs. STEM fields demand curious individuals eager to solve the world’s most pressing problems.”

One of the most engaging STEM programs many educators have found is a curriculum that uses drone technology. This is why you will now find drone themed summer camps in countless communities. One example can be found at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) through the School of Engineering. As stated on the University website, “The School of Engineering will host a series of week-long summer camps in June and July 2024. The camps will offer high-school students opportunities to get hands-on experience designing, building and programming drones and remote-controlled ‘Rover’ vehicles.”

UAB’s Drone Academy will be for anyone interested in learning the basics of drone technology. Using 3D printing and computer-aided design software, campers will learn how to design and build operational drones. This camp will have 3 sessions. The second camp option, Rover Academy, is meant to be a follow up to the skills covered during the Drone Academy. It will involve more complex programming and construction. And one of the most amazing aspects of this drone camp is the cost. UAB understands that parents and guardians can often feel the financial burden of keeping kids busy during the summer. The website goes on to state, “The suggested cost for each one-week camp is a $100 donation per student. Payment is voluntary, however, and no student will be excluded if cost is a limiting factor.”

Another example can be found in Hollsopple, PA through Laurel Highlands Education & Robotics, Inc. (LHER). LHER’s mission is “to support, encourage, and advance education, science, technology, engineering, arts, and math to students in grades K-12 in the Laurel Highlands region of western Pennsylvania and beyond; and to inspire and motivate students to realize their full potential and develop leadership, business, teamwork, communication, and life skills to become confident, responsible, others-minded citizens who seek to make a difference and enrich the lives of others.”

Upholding the standards of this mission, LHER is offering 4 different drone themed summer camps this year! The first 2 camps are for students ages 8 and up. Classic Drone Camp will be a 2 hour drone boot camp. Campers will be introduced to the basics of drone safety and how to operate them. While the Drone Coding Camp-Beginner Programming with Blockly will teach kids how to program drones to do different tasks. For older kids, ages 12 and up, LHER will host an intermediate program also called Drone Coding Camp that will utilize more advanced programming skills. And finally, LHER knows parents and guardians like to get in on the fun too, so they are offering a program specifically for teens and adults.

LHER describes the Parent-Teen FPV (First Person View) Drone Night as such, “A parent and 1 child aged 12+ years old will have the opportunity to fly with FPV goggles and a simulator, navigate courses, avoid obstacles, understand drone safety and line of sight flying, fly in Acro mode, do tricks, and explore Betaflight.” And like UAB, LHER is also making sure to offer these summer camps at reasonable prices. Each program only costs $30-$50.

These are just options from 2 places in the United States. With the growing popularity of drones and the influence they are having across numerous commercial industries, it’s easy to understand why summer drone camps are becoming so widely available. Using drones to teach STEM curriculums, whether during the regular school year or as part of a summer camp, is a fun and easy way to engage kids in an activity that could shape their future.

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