TFA Community Fund helps deliver drone learning

Wednesday, March 4th, 2020

Funding from the 2018 TFA Community Fund has helped create a one-of-a-kind drone trolley as part of a New Norfolk High School STEM project called “Super Drones to the Rescue”. 

The trolley is fully portable, and allows for safe storage and transport to and from classrooms of the school’s fleet of drones. It has full charging capabilities and is home to the primary fleet of 20 Remote Piloted Aircraft (the technical name for a ‘drone’). Training equipment and maintenance tools have also been sourced to provide longevity to the fleet until the end of 2023.

Drones are an important aspect of STEM studies at New Norfolk High School
A STEM project called “Super Drones to the Rescue” has helped New Norfolk High School to create a one-of-a-kind drone trolley.

New Norfolk High School teacher Reid Barry (Cohort 2018) received funding from the Teach For Australia 2018 Community Fund to support the project, which has seen the use of drones linked to the Year 7 Science Curriculum on force and motion, providing an engaging and practical use of STEM skills to students.

The primary fleet of 20 RPAs has been divided into five squadrons, each themed and coloured for ease of identification whilst in operation. Craft in this fleet are the perfect training tool for budding drone operators due to their simplicity in flight controls and robust design.

Reid said that a secondary fleet has also been purchased, with this fleet containing larger craft with more advanced flight controls. The secondary fleet of eight RPAs has been split into two squadrons, and their larger lifting capacity makes them the muscle in the armada at New Norfolk High School. An RPA with on-board camera and virtual reality capabilities has been purchased to assist in training young pilots, and to provide engagement to the technology for those unable to access the technicalities of the flight controls

Reid envisions the program training Year 7 students to gain their ‘basic RPA pilot licence’, and progress to an ‘advanced RPA pilot licence’ throughout their time in High School science classes. This would mean training approximately 90 new RPA pilots per year, with on-going skill development throughout Years 8, 9 & 10, thus reaching over 300 students by the end of 2023.

A major highlight of the New Norfolk drone program saw selected New Norfolk High School students engage over 180 students from five primary schools within the Derwent Valley community during the 2019 New Norfolk High School STEM Expo, fanning the flames of interest in STEM in a new generation of drone pilots.

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