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Australian Teacher Takes Flight

By Kerry Wallace-Massone

Over the last few days, I have been working with KwF to build and fly my own UAV/Drone. KwF created the Teachers Take Flight program to prepare educators with technical skills that are needed to build, program and operate unmanned aerial systems for an educational curriculum with a mission focus. The mission focus should be relevant to each school context, but some excellent examples include environmental, community needs and humanitarian efforts.

Teachers Take Flight inspires and prepares educators to empower students in solving real-world challenges in a diverse and collaborative environment through the integration of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education that applies autonomous unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs).

KwF provides the kits and the know-how for the teacher training, and then teachers can take the knowledge back to their own classrooms. However, if required, KwF will also assist by providing workshops for schools as well. This is great news for us because the KwF team is coming to Australia, so let me know if anyone is interested in doing this at their own school and I will try and assist in organizing some dates that work.

I built a hexacopter, however, most students would build a quadcopter. You have the option to customize your UAV if you want, for instance, you could add a go-pro or other device to your UAV. I think this is such a good program because it is not enough to just fly a UAV, as students need to understand why it flies. The UAV uses open-source software that has a great interface that students would love engaging with. For instance, you may upload maps of your school, via Google maps for into the interface and then can program the UAV to fly around set waypoints that you set to accomplish your mission.

It was so exciting to get to flight day! I had some initial hiccups with the compass and windy weather did get in the way of flying one day. However, when my gorgeous UAV (I named her Virginia, after the State she was created in) went up she was full of power and those six rotors did their thing and she was a sight to behold! Virginia has got grunt and I felt fortunate that it was not my first time flying. I could not get the smile off my face!

I have dismantled Virginia and get the pleasure of rebuilding a lot of her again when I return to Oz to reiterate the process again. I will reset the compass and have her flying ASAP when on Aussie soil.

Look out for a future post when Virginia is up in the beautiful blues skies of OZ!

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