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Discovering drones: District 518, 4-H partner in activity with foam aircraft

Dennis Ramirez (left) and Osvaldo Batres work together on their foam drone Thursday evening as part of the Drone Discovery Program. (Martina Baca/Daily Globe)1 / 2
Senyit Tiruneh decorates her drone with stickers during Thursday's Drone Discovery Program. (Martina Baca/Daily Globe)2 / 2

WORTHINGTON-- Worthington Middle School students had a fun time flying and crashing foam drones during the Drone Discovery Program Thursday evening in the school cafeteria.  

 

District 518 and Nobles County 4-H started a new partnership last spring in which WMS students participating in the Enrichment Directed Toward Gaining and Extending Knowledge Programs (EDGE) have chances to experience 4-H at school.

 

“I came around to the classes last spring to do different 4-H activities with the kids and they really liked them,” Nobles County 4-H Program Coordinator Katie Klosterbuer said. “I received very good feedback from the teachers and the youth, so we scheduled to do it again this year.”

 

After seeing such positive responses, Klosterbuer was motivated to bring in something fun for the fall that would encourage kids to explore the science world. She said she thought the Drone Discovery Program would be a perfect fit.

 

The Drone Discovery Program is part of the 4-H curricula, where students have the opportunity to build drones out of foam gliders and attach a camera to them to record the crafts’ flight paths.

 

Dennis Ramirez, a sixth-grader, didn’t hesitate to sign up for the program a couple of weeks ago. After all, it’s not every day that he has the chance to build his own drone.

 

“I signed up for this program because it’s fun to learn about technology,” Ramirez said. “I am really excited because I want to make the best one.”

 

During the first session, Klosterbuer started by introducing basic gravity laws through the construction of aircrafts with paper plates.

 

“What I learned the first time I came was that you can make anything out of paper plates and straws because we made an airplane out of paper plates,” said Senyit Tiruneh, a sixth-grader.

 

On Thursday, students were able to put that theory into practice and started building their drones. Klosterbuer said she and the other 4-H volunteers guide students through the process, but the students are the ones who have to find the final solutions.

 

“They want their drones to go straight, but that’s not going to be the case the first times they try them,” Klosterbuer said. “So they are going to use some of the materials we have, like weights and papers, to balance it out.”   

 

At the end of the activity, students attached a small camera to the drone to record the flying path, which they then were able to see on a computer.

 

“They are making all the decisions,” she said. “How they plug it to the computer, how to attach the camera so it won't mess with the weight of their drone, so it’s really a trial-and-error type of learning.”

 

To add a little extra excitement to the program, Minnesota West Community and Technical College instructor Paul Seifert will be visiting students Dec. 13. Klosterbuer said Seifert will offer great input to the program, as he and his students build real drones and compete against other colleges.

 

“He is bringing drones for the kids to see and talk about the career aspect of what goes into the drones, and how you can use them in real life whether it’s agricultural or military-type services,” she said.

 

“I really want to see a real drone and fly it,” Tiruneh said.

 

Klosterbuer said the school has shown great support of the program and is happy to be able to help kids to expand their knowledge outside the classroom and develop their interpersonal skills.

 

“The cool thing about 4-H is that it does build those critical thinking skills, but they are also constantly communicating with others,” she said. “So I hope these kids are using those skills that they are learning inside these programs in their daily life.”