Tecumseh Public Schools to start drone program

Elisabeth Slay
The Shawnee News-Star
Professional remote controlled wireless RC quadcopter drone with 4K video and photo camera for aerial photography flying in the air outdoors with selective focus effect.

Tecumseh Public Schools will soon launch a new drone program for its middle school and high school students.

According to Superintendent Robert Kinsey, the district wants to involve more of its middle school and high school students in the STEAM program  — Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics.

"After visiting with teachers and students, our new STEAM Coordinator, Dara Campbell, identified two areas of interest that received favorable feedback," Kinsey said. "One of those areas of interest was learning how to use drones. The other involves using virtual reality devices as learning tools."

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In the regular Pottawatomie County Commissioners meeting Nov. 15, Kinsey said the district received approval to go out for bids on needed equipment for the program. Purchases made with a district's county education sales tax fund have to be approved through commissioners.

"We will be purchasing a drone kit that contains 10 drones along with chargers, controllers and extra parts," Kinsey said. "We will also be purchasing a field elements kit. This kit also contains pre-designed lessons that teachers can use to reinforce STEAM principles while students are using the devices."

He explained the district decided to start this program after not being able to use the STEAM Center at the level it usually did.

"One of our primary goals before COVID that we carried over to this year was to provide learning options that would create excitement in learning for our secondary students," Kinsey said. "With that in mind, we identified this as a program that both teachers and students are excited about."

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The superintendent feels the drone program will benefit students as it offers an opportunity to learn new skills.

"They will also have the chance to learn the basics of flight, aerodynamics and make connections to career opportunities that involve the use of drone technology," Kinsey said.

The program is set to launch next semester and Kinsey explained educators from Tecumseh Middle School and Tecumseh High School will have the opportunity to bring their students to the STEAM Center once a month for the program.

"It will be our goal to have teachers take the learning experiences that the students have at the STEAM Center back to their classrooms as well so that learning can be further reinforced," he said.

The educators will be the ones to teach the curriculum of this program to their students and will find ways to integrate it into their existing lessons.

Kinsey said the district is looking forward to starting the program and giving this opportunity to its students and teachers.

"The most fun for me is watching the students get excited about their learning," Kinsey said. "I look forward to seeing the smiles on their faces, hearing the excitement in their voices and watching them get actively involved as they learn using these new devices."

In addition, Kinsey said he can really see the program being a success.

"I can see that this program could really take off, no pun intended, and turn into something that might spark interest in a high school course related to drone usage as a career," Kinsey said. "Students might even be able to work toward getting their drone license if we were to start a class such as that."