A University of Wollongong project is using drone technology to engage young students in science. ‘Fliight’ is the brainchild of science education students George Harriman and Kian Garcia.
The ‘Fliight School’ teaches children how to build and fly drones, and to understanding the science and mechanics behind them.
Mr Harriman said the classes give students a new and exciting way of looking at science.
“Kids can look at for example, what works better, a three, four or five propeller drone. Simple experiments, and subsequently the results, help them to make their drones better and it’s fun, as opposed to that thirty year old bottle rocket experiment,” Mr Harriman said.
He said schools have recognised the Fliight approach as a valuable learning tool.
“We saw the need for a service to support people to get into the industry, so that’s how the education side came into it. There’s been a big push from the Board of Studies and lots of schools who all see the value in this,” Mr Harriman said.
‘Fliight’ came second in the recent UOW Pitch competition, and secured them funds to further develop the project and office space the university’s iAcclerate innovation hub.
Interim Director of the Science and Planetarium Centre Stuart Creal said there is a national emphasis on addressing the current skills shortage in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) areas.
“The ideal way to do that is to find the hook that really captures children’s interests and then feed the STEM subjects into that hook,” Mr Creal said.
“With the case of the ‘Fliight’ team, the idea of drones being incredibly popular at the moment is that exciting hook, potentially to get children into STEM.”
Mr Harriman said Fliight was also an opportunity for its creators to advance their skills by learning how to run a small business.
“You learn more from creating a business and seeing how it operates than you would from doing a business management course at Uni,” Mr Harriman said.