Year 9 students become accredited drone pilots

Year 9 students become accredited drone pilots
They might not be able to drive a car yet, but Year 9 students Tamika Tran, Eva Jiang and Nina Wang have already become accredited pilots – drone pilots that is.

The St Margaret’s Anglican Girls School students recently became the first to gain their Remote Pilot’s Licence (RePL) from the Civil Aviation Safety Authority through the school’s innovative new Drone Academy which provides students the opportunity to engage and explore the engineering and science behind drone technology.

Below, The Educator spoke to St Margaret’s Manager of the STEM Enrichment Programs, Chris Farrelly, to find out more.

TE: This is certainly an exciting development for the students’ career pathways. In you view, what kind of industries are drone skills likely to be most useful in?
The use of drones is revolutionising a broad range of industries including agriculture, real estate, media, film and television. Science and industry are using drones for ecology surveying, for weed control, pest management and environmental monitoring. Our grain producers monitor the health of bulk grain storage and help control pests in crops, using the technology, while farmers are using drones to check on the health and even the location of their stock. Drones are also used to survey the outside of buildings, roofs and industrial plants. At St Margaret’s, our focus is on teaching STEM and combining the cross disciplinary skills in education in the same way skills are used after school. The St Margaret’s Drone Academy provides opportunities for students to gain an insight and appreciation into some of the more practical skills required, in addition to their academic learnings. Our students learn to carefully read government policy; how to read maps and weather charts; how to react when the unexpected happens and they are in command of the aircraft. They develop independence and other important skills for many and varied career paths.

TE: Can you tell us any more about how the school will further enhance drone studies next year?
As students gain their proficiency in operating Unmanned Aerial Aircraft, and achieve their CASA RePL licence, they will have the opportunity to begin study into aerial videography through the schools’ Multi Media Studies. They will learn how to plan and execute an effective news piece that is both emotive and visually informative. Biology students will be partnering with pilots, and building a longitudinal survey database, documenting the health of ecosystems. Students in the early secondary years will be learning to code for a purpose, and see the result of their successes and failures in the flight of a drone, and students in Years 9 and 10 will build their own drones.

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