MAAA Wingspan - Quarterly Magazine

14 Established in May 2017, the Queensland-based St. Margaret’s Anglican Girls School’s Drone Academy offers a program that provides some of its Year 6-10 students with the essential skills to properly pilot drones, along with the potential to become an accredited CASA licensed pilot. From gaining hands-on experience engineering a drone from scratch and programming an app to control it, to ultimately piloting their own invention and learning about legislation - it’s an encouragingly comprehensive program that instills confidence in some of our future prospective pilots. “The Drone Academy encompasses several ideas that hinge on capturing the curiosity of the younger students,” said teacher Chris Farrelly, who administers the program. “We use that as an avenue to encourage students to learn code and write software that function so that the students can programa drone to fly in a sequence of controlled actions.” As Chris elaborates, the skills learnt inmastering the piloting of UAVs include an expansive breadth of learning opportunities for students, perhaps only used to piloting at a hobby level. “It teaches themathematics and the aerodynamics of lift, yawing and rotation around a point,” said Chris. “For example, the amount of lift you get out of a certain speed, the pitch, length and size of the propellers. It even teaches how to cope with working in feet for altitude and metres for distance – skills that students growing up in the city wouldn’t normally have.” Reassuringly, the students also learn about the safety behind drones too, including the legislation they should be abiding to. There’s also the opportunity to obtain a remote pilot license (RePL) as well. “For Year 10 level students (aged 15-16), in association with a commercial operation called Wicked Copters, we HOW AN ACADEMIC PROGRAM INSTILLS THE IMPORTANT PRINCIPLES OF PILOTING DRONES FOR THEIR YOUNG PUPILS WING SPAN FEBRUARY ST. MARGARET’S DRONE ACADEMY