There’s a massive disparity in learning between students from rural areas compared with students from cities. Students from rural areas face additional barriers to STEM education, thereby hampering their ability to pursue advanced STEM studies and occupations.
Philippines Flying Labs (PFL) started the “Fly a Drone” educational program for high school students in remote areas to address this educational disparity—starting with Malapascua, a small island in the northernmost part of Cebu. The PFL team composed of Dr. Heidi Sampang (a newly certified She Maps online community UAV instructor course) and Xervy Veloso (a certified UAV pilot) taught the course to 20 students from 7th to 12th grade. The class consists of a 30-minute lecture explaining the objectives of the course, the different components of the drone, the mechanics of flying, and most importantly, the safety precautions. This was followed by the flying course held in the school’s open courtyard.
Due to the outdoor location of the flying training site, and with occasional winds, we decided to use our DJI Phantom instead of our Tellos to ensure a better flying experience for the students. They were initially apprehensive out of fear that they might damage the drone. But once they watched the DJI Phantom cruise around with relative ease, their tensions eased, and the training became a more play-based learning experience for them. All of the students were able to do the takeoff, performed the four primary drone movements, and safely land the drone on their own. They had seen drones on the Internet, but with this activity and personally handling aircraft, it sparked their curiosity to study math and science.
Due to the students’ (and their parents’) enthusiasm, we are inspired to continue offering this program for students in rural communities. And we hope that they will eventually pursue careers in STEM.
Philippines Flying Labs successfully completed the She Maps Online Community Instructor course, which aims to help them create new drone training programs and enhance the programs already in place.