Unmanned Aircraft Vehicles Provide Real World Applications to Teach STEM

Professor John Finkler

The Drone Smartz™ document is a 15-Module project to learn about UAV / Drone flying, the legal issues cited by the Federal Aviation Agency (FAA) & the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and common sense safety issues.  Safety should be introduced as the reoccurring theme that guides all operations for this course.  

Drone Smartz™ was written with two 7 Module segments.  The first seven Modules will involve (head knowledge) learning about drones, various legal issues, government regulations and safety.  The second seven Modules will focus on hands-on experience and allow us to differentiate between a “STEM” program focusing on secondary school students or adult occupational technology implementation. There will be midterm and final exams in this program and opportunities for between session (homework) Lab opportunities.
Drone Smartz™ is developed to allow educators the flexibility to weave these UAV applications and concepts into their individual curriculum.    You know your students better, their strengths and weakness and interests. The Drone Smartz™ Instructor Guide will contain suggestions linking applications and concepts to other parts of your curriculum.    Whether you are in a Science Technology Engineering Mathematics (STEM) program unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) will contribute to your students and their potential careers.
For each module topic, students will research the topics outside of class, take notes from instruction and write a one-page summary detailing the essential aspects included.  These documents make up the bulk of the portfolio and will be used to judge the fitness of Operators for certification. Beyond the first Module, all sessions should start with a review of the prior session and the assignment documents produced.
Specific to the second 7-Module session as the students’ transition from head knowledge to hands-on experience, so too will their documentation.  All participants must maintain a log chronicling all
simulator time and flight time.  All log entries are to be made at flight time or shortly thereafter.  Appendix P - Pilot Log for additional information and electronic vs paper logging opportunities.
Students must also develop and maintain a Personal Portfolio including all write-ups, logs, activities, tests, and any other written or graphic materials that demonstrate training and competence.  These documents will be used as evidence of their completion of this program.
Starting in September, we will travel around the US introducing to teachers how to use Drone Smartz to provide application to STEM and discuss what students need to know predicated on their further interest and career paths. We feel that these technology – to – career driven round tables can unleash initiatives that speak to school’s strategic plans. It may well be that Drone Technology is an excellent application conduit to STEM.
  • Module 1 - What is in the Box
  • Module 2 – Career Opportunities
  • Module 3 - Government Regulations
  • Module 4 - Safety
  • Module 5 – The Physics of Flight
  • Module 6 – Hardware & Software Considerations
  • Module 7 – Ethical Flight Considerations
  • Module 9 – Hands-On Experience – Hardware Orientation Basics
  • Module 10 – Hands-On Experience – UAV Pilot Flight Simulator
  • Module 11 – Hands-On Experience – UAV Preflight Basics and ST10+ Binding
  • Module 12 – Hands-On Experience – Preflight Setup Checklist
  • Module 13 – Hands-On Experience – Take-Off and Landing
  • Module 14 – Hands-On Experience – Advanced Features
Recently a friend reminded me of the slur, those that can do, those that cannot teach…  I am a teacher and an educator.   I have taught in an inner-city junior high school, corporate training, several colleges and universities.  My peers and I bristle at the thought that someone tells us how to teach our class.  
In an article published in THE Journal, Frank DiMaria wrote “Allowing Technology to Amplify Quality Teaching”.  His theory mirrors the focus of our project.    As an educator, it’s not my intention to throw technology at my students to make things interesting.  Nor do I plan to candy coat technology with the hope that our students will remember the fun parts and some of the surrounding material.       
Today school districts are looking to mobile devices and laptops to revolutionize education. Without question, these devices have the potential to be effective tools. However, without quality adult supervision they are merely cognitive candy, (DiMaria, 2016)




 John  Finkler

As a professional educator, I am skilled in some of the most difficult aspects of sharing knowledge with students or new staff members. I have been a Corporate Trainer, Full-time and Adjunct Faculty, and a multi-disciplinary tutor as necessary; preparing materials and completing all necessary tasks to provide hardware and software training. Reflecting on my military experience, I choose to be a leader rather than a director or manager; embracing the cutting edge of Information Technology (IT), discovering new ways to use IT, and inspiring others to adopt IT and excel in their own endeavors.
Personal Philosophy:       To equip people with the tools and skills they need to work more efficiently and empower them to experiment with these tools and adapt them to their personal needs.
John Finkler