Rodriguez Elementary ACE offers students a drone class

Students at Rodriguez Elementary STEM Academy are learning how to fly drones.

The ACE after-school program offers students an opportunity to participate in a variety of classes.

“Fifth-grade has the opportunity to do drone and coding classes,” Rodriguez Elementary ACE coordinator Jennifer Turner said. “Other grade levels are participating in a variety of different hands-on STEM activities. I am really happy that the students are learning this new technology.”

 When students first started the class, they were nervous to fly the drones, but through practice they have improved their drone-flying skills.

“At first, they were kind of scared of crashing the drone or hitting things with it, but after the first couple of days, they got used to it,” Rodriguez Elementary computer technician Mario Garcia said. “A lot of them picked up on it really easily. Most of them play video games at that age, so they have really good hand-eye coordination.”

 Students began the first few classes learning the basics.

 “First we learned how to fly it, how to go side to side, up and down, and take off and land,” fifth-grader Audra Quintanilla said.

After the first few classes, they were challenged to complete an obstacle course in the gym.

“It was actually a very good experience,” fifth-grader Richard Esquivel said.  “It is trial and error. That is my favorite part about learning to fly the drone.”

The obstacle course consisted of several hoops that students needed to fly the drone through.

“It is not easy when you first learn to fly the drone,” fifth-grader Kaitlyn Saenz said.

The drone control looks like a video game controller; however, students found it more challenging to move the drone.

“I play video games,” fifth-grader Kaiden Torres said. “There is this game called War Zone where you fly drones, but it’s not the same as actually flying the real drone. This drone is really hard to control. When you stay still, it moves because the air turns the wings.”

The STEM activities that students are working on are teaching them skills they might need in the future.

“Learning this at a young age is really good for them because we are only advancing in technology,” Garcia said. “Flying the drone, 3D printing, and all the other stuff that we are teaching with ACE will help them further down the line in whatever careers they choose.”

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