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Idaho STEM deploys drones to schools, libraries

Contributed photo
Thrust-UAV R&D manager Chris Haskins shows Kamiah High School teacher Mona Farmer how to pilot a drone at a workshop in Boise June 13-14 as Ridgevue High School teacher Ken Manship observes.


Contributed photo Thrust-UAV R&D manager Chris Haskins shows Kamiah High School teacher Mona Farmer how to pilot a drone at a workshop in Boise June 13-14 as Ridgevue High School teacher Ken Manship observes.



— The Idaho STEM Action Center recently awarded more than $147,000 in grants to equip 22 schools and libraries throughout the Gem State with drones, including three sites in North Central Idaho.

Teachers, librarians, and staff from Culdesac School, Kamiah School District, Nezperce Junior High School, and the other sites joined trainers from Idaho-based PCS Edventures and its Thrust-UAV division at a drone flight school in Boise last week. The two-day workshop taught grant recipients how to build, operate, maintain, modify, and race the unmanned aerial vehicles and pass that knowledge onto kids.

According to STEM Action Center executive director Angela Hemingway, drones are a great way to engage kids in science, technology, engineering, and math, and the aircraft can even be incorporated into curriculum for classes like social studies and PE.

“Kids are naturally curious, and although many have heard about drones they may not have had an opportunity to interact with one, so drones are an easy way to get kids interested in STEM,” she said. “Plus, drones are very hands-on, and working with them utilizes all four of the core STEM disciplines — science, technology, engineering, and math. We’re hoping our drones inspire students who may not have considered a career in a STEM field.”

Hemingway says the effort is also a great way to help lure more high-tech jobs and higher wages to the state as Idaho continues to develop a work force with the skills employers are seeking.

“Idaho’s tech sector is the second fastest-growing in the nation at 6.3 percent, and 80 percent of all jobs will require technology skills within the next 20 years,” she says. “There will be a significant increase in jobs that require proficiency in piloting and programming drones.”



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