Decatur County students learn coding through building of drones

Published 9:34 am Monday, January 24, 2022

The Decatur County School System was recently awarded a computer science grant that will help expose students in grades K-8 to coding through the use of drones.

Amy Zock, Director of Digital Learning for the Decatur County School System, said the grant allowed the school to purchase a Parrot Mambo DIY Kit from For the Win Robotics. The robotics company then provides a learning program to teachers and students called Build, Fly, Code.

The program teaches both students and educators how to build the Parrot Mambo drone from the ground up and allows students to earn their pilot wings through the science of flight, utilizing a block-based coding experience that teachers can then build on.

Zock said currently the drones are being built and coded by middle school students.

“Mac Lewis from the high school comes in the afternoon and helps them code and build them,” Zock said.

Students can program various codes into their drones, commanding it to take off, land or move to the right or left.

Once the drone is completely functional, Zock said the students can put it to the test in a 3D obstacle course that was part of the drone package.

In order to get more students excited about the coding of drones, Zock said they plan to teach some of the coding to small groups of 5th grade students, who in turn, can then join the coding program the following year. Zock said they also try to get 5th graders excited by bringing the completed Parrot Mambo to their classroom for curriculums they could use specialty visuals in, such as learning about the solar system or eco system.

However, while teaching the 5th graders the excitement of coding, middle school students are still able to fly and play with their drones.

Zock said the students who built the drones have even more to look forward to in the future, as next year they will be given a remote control for their drone, and be able to compete with other drones on a competitive flight field.

“We really want these kids to buy into coding and see what is possible through code,” Zock finished.