Coding in conjunction with a Parrot Mambo drone and a tablet.

Children And Drones, Educating The Next Generation

Our children are maturing in a society where drones have become a common household gadget, but our beloved flying pleasures have far more to give and are now being used as education aids by French drone manufacturer, Parrot.

Using the Parrot Mambo, school children are able to test various programming languages within the classroom.
Using the Parrot Mambo, school children are able to test various programming languages within the classroom.

Drones have gained themselves a reputation as ‘toys’ or ‘gadgets’ but in a move by Parrot, they are now being widely used as educational aids in conjunction with a dedicated niche curriculum.

Parrot have also established partnerships with leading hardware and software vendors to ensure continuity at home, outside of the classroom environment.

  • Apple – Parrot is featured in Swift Playgrounds, the free iPad app from Apple. With Parrot’s new playground, which is available in six languages, kids (and adults) can program and control Parrot drones using real Swift code.
  • Tynker – Tynker strengthened its partnerships with Parrot by deploying its curriculum on tablets in six languages and in making a new offer available for any private individuals, so the apprenticeship can continue at home, after school.
  • Workbench – Workbench offers a revolutionary platform that connects educators from all over the world so they can share their activities within the educational community. The “Parrot Flight School” now makes it possible to write code and to control a drone directly from a web browser
  • MathWorks – Mathworks has provided hardware support from MATLAB® and Simulink® for Parrot drones with the Embedded Coder® target for Parrot AR.Drone 2.0. MathWorks is also assisting Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) professor Sertac Karaman, and other researchers, to use Parrot Minidrones to teach undergraduate and graduate courses on feedback control.

Not only is the scheme available to school and educational facilities but also to non-profit institutions.

“Parrot Education has been created by Parrot to support academic and non-profit institutions to enable the use of drones in classrooms, labs and fields. Launched one year ago in the US, the program today works with more than 400 schools and 50 major universities across North America that use Parrot products as part of their curriculum. Now, the program will expand to make Parrot educational content available worldwide!”, Parrot

Modern schooling in developed countries already offers elements of coding and software development, together with hardware on to which routines can be deployed but the introduction of drones as an option may attract the attention of children whom may not otherwise have shown an interest.

Programming is a key educational skill which can also help children to excel in other areas of education.
Programming is a key educational skill which can also help children to excel in other areas of education.

It may prove tricky to avoid the ‘geek’ stigma of software development stereotypes, but the opportunity to be involved with drones in the classroom environment may hold more appeal than the perceived negatives.

“The new division has been created to support academic and non-profit institutions to introduce the use of drones in classrooms, labs and fields. Launched one year ago in the US, the program today works with more than 400 schools and 50 major universities across North America, working with Parrot technology as part of their curriculum. Now, the program will expand to make Parrot educational content available worldwide.”, Parrot

Parrot report that feedback from educational institutions has been positive with many reporting greater engagement and increased motivation among students.

  • “Parrot drones have created amazing STEM opportunities in my classroom taking our coding and engineering to new heights!”- Brad Lowell, 5th grade science and STEM teacher, Fall Creek Intermediate School in Fishers, Indiana.
  • “The integration of Parrot Minidrones within our STEM curriculum enables us to engage our students in hands-on problem solving experiences where they apply coding, engineering, and making skills in fun and creative ways.” – Michael A. Lincoln, Information Technology/Media Design Educator/Speaker
  • “Parrot Minidrones have been instrumental throughout all of our drone stem summer camp programs. Our participants and instructors can easily fly and code the Minidrones as they attempt and accomplish valuable and exciting flight challenges. In the end the Parrot Minidrones are an excellent teaching tool and fully support our overall goal of STEM learning through the portal of drone technology.” – Robert Elwood, Founder & CEO, Drobots Company
  • “The Beaver Works Summer Institute was created at the MIT to give highly motivated STEM students the chance to tackle complex, hands-on engineering projects. This year we’ve added two more projects in which students can explore applications for autonomy and artificial intelligence. At the BWSI grand finale competitions August 6 at MIT, students in the autonomous UAV course will fly their Parrot quadrotors autonomously through an obstacle course.” – Bob Shin, director of MIT Beaver Work Initiative

The press release from Parrot unfortunately does not extend to education around safe and responsible piloting, this element is key to the next generation being able to sustain the freedoms of current drone-related regulation.

Coding skills in conjunction with Parrot drone hardware allow children to experiment with basic and complex coding concepts.
Coding skills in conjunction with Parrot drone hardware allow children to experiment with basic and complex coding concepts.

Just recently, multiple news agencies falsely speculated on the sighting of a drone at a major UK airport and the ensuing disturbance to commercial flights, without evidencing their claims, but such reports damage the reputation of RC aircraft and their owners, therefore it is important for the new generations to be competent with the risks, limitations, law and regulation surrounding their use of drones.

But understanding drones at a raw developmental level may inherently assist with educating the next generation, the knowledge that a drone is only as capable and safe as the software developer responsible for writing its code-base should prompt young pilots to fly more safely than their older counterparts.


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