Steps and Best Practices to build a Successful Student Drone Club
What your school needs to set up a Drone Club – PART ONE
Drone Clubs and Drone Racing teams offer a platform for students to discover the excitement of drones. They are a great way to spark interest in STEM and to create stellar engineers, programmers and pilots. Drones clubs, like their predecessor robotics (ground and water) clubs, are growing in a big way at the elementary through university levels. Drone clubs can start small and be for a specific purpose- an engineering competition, drone racing or just a place for students to learn to fly safely after school and have some fun.
Image: Dallas ISD Science and Engineering Magnet School Drone Team
Here are the steps to starting a drone club:
1. Find a Faculty Sponsor: Technical Skill, Enthusiasm and Desire to promote STEM based hands-on learning is needed:
All campus clubs need a teacher or faculty to sponsor it. Your drone club will need someone who is almost as “into" drones as the students or at least is willing to jump in and learn. A sponsor has to have some technical skill, enthusiasm and a desire to promote STEM-based hands-on learning and maintain composure when the crashes happen.
2. Designate the flight location: It is legal to use drones for education purposes
It is legal to fly a drone for educational purposes provided your team follows FAA guidance published in May of 2016. You will have to register your drone and label them as the FAA describes. Only the drone registration number is needed but ALL drones must be labeled with that number.
Teachers do not need to have or get a drone pilot’s license (called a Remote Pilot’s or Part 107 license) but you may want to go through the training any way. The more the sponsor knows, the better the guidance.
At a university, work through the administration to make sure the campus police and risk management are involved in the process. Recent updated to the law and regulation will require a little diligence and you will want to check the FAA’s online map to determine if the location is within 5 miles of airport. If yes, contact the airport and ask for permission to fly on a designated day at a certain time.
Baseball, football, soccer and even a tennis court are great places to set up a drone race. School drone clubs can fly indoors or outdoors.
To avoid all of this you can start by flying indoor in your own gymnasium. FAA rules do not apply but some commons sense does.
3. Name Your Club and Define your purpose: Create a short paragraph of the primary purpose.
Here are some examples:
• Rover High School Drone Zone Club allows our high school student to learn drone basics- building, repairing and flying. We have weekly missions and work in teams to accomplish a task using the camera sensor on our drones. We learn hands-on technical and communication skills.
• Valley College Drone Racing Club offers simulators and racing drones to students interested in learning drone racing. Meetings are held Thursday afternoons at the Football field where a drone racing course is set-up for students. Students must complete safety flying assessment and skills test in order to fly. Drone simulators are set up in the Maker Space and available to member students any time.
4. Find a Professional, Corporate or Parent Sponsors – Time, Expertise and Money or Fund-Raising Support Helps
There is a local expert or company that can help your school set up a drone club as a volunteer. There are professionals in in every city or town as well as companies that use drones (construction, commercial real estate, inspection) that have a drone pilot or in some cities a company directly in the drone industry. Many of these companies fit perfectly with a STEM –based club.
Parent organizations and school boosters are also great places to look for volunteer help, expertise(engineer, coder, or drone pilot) and financial support. Send an email with your drone club description and ask if the expert or company would like to be a sponsor or volunteer.
The next blog will cover these topics:
• Selecting the right drone for the purpose and age of students
• The number of drones per student
• Repair- a skill everybody needs to know
To see more about equipment needed review this OnPoynt Drone Ranger Blog. Call OnPoynt if you have questions, we are happy to answer. Good luck and email or tweet us about your drone club. We would love to feature your club in OnPoynt’s social media.
email@example.com or (844)466-7696
- Anindita Palit