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Students Teaching Teachers: Student Perspective

Students did the teaching when Kashmir World Foundation (KwF) interns and DaVinci Challenge mentors Grey Golla, Mike Kronmiller and Ben Goff led KwF DaVinci Challenge’s first-ever Teachers Take Flight Build a Drone workshop the week of July 11th. Five educators from colleges and high schools around the United States gathered at the Foxcroft School for this special workshop, designed exclusively for educators to learn how to design, build, customize, and operate drones and hear from an array of knowledgeable guest speakers. The goal of the workshop was to equip participants with technical know-how in a creative environment, giving them valuable information and experience to take back to their students. In an exciting twist, Grey, Mike, and Ben – students themselves – directed the workshop and led the teachers through the build process.

Grey Golla, a rising senior at Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology (TJHSST), has been with KwF since summer 2014 after attending the first DaVinci Challenge Build a Drone workshop in July of that year. Despite having minimal experience with drones prior to participating, Grey’s interest and competence stood out to KwF Executive Director Princess Aliyah Pandolfi, who asked him to help out at the next workshop. He quickly became a valuable member of the team, and was recently certified as an instructor! Grey was very impressed by the teachers participating in Teachers Take Flight as well as by the overall success of the workshop. “I learned so much from the presentations by guest speakers and conversations with the participants,” he said. “They were all fully interested and focused, which made the workshop quite enjoyable.” According to Grey, the teachers were more focused than the average participant in other workshops, which allowed the KwF team to delve deeper in their presentations and address more advanced topics than they are usually able to do.

Grey’s assessment of the workshop was echoed by fellow KwF mentor Mike Kronmiller, an incoming freshman at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. Mike joined the team in July 2015 after being introduced to Aliyah for help on a project he is working on in Nepal, where he has been teaching students over the past year. In exchange for help from Aliyah and her husband, Ron Pandolfi, Director of Kashmir Robotics, Mike took the opportunity to help mentor at workshops. Having been involved with several workshops over the past year, he said that Teachers Take Flight may have been his favorite. He said of the workshop, “it was pretty cool because the teachers were so receptive, and excited to learn and implement their newfound knowledge in their own school systems. On flight day, all of the teachers’ drones flew perfectly, which I think is truly a testament to Aliyah and Ron’s teaching methods, and demonstrates just how well they work. I’m definitely looking forward to doing this again next year.”

The final KwF student mentor, Heritage High School senior Ben Goff, also praised how smoothly the workshop went, and expressed his excitement about the reversal of roles in running the workshop. “It was truly a great experience. It was as much a learning experience for me as it was for the teachers. They were a lot of fun to work with.” Ben was first introduced to KwF when he attended a drone workshop with his father in January 2015.

Thank you to Grey, Mike, and Ben! We could not have made this workshop a success without your help.

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