STEM FAQ

Q: Is there a cost to the program?
A: Currently the only cost are the actual drone Starter Packs. Each Pack is under $300 (educational discount) and includes enough parts for a single drone for a semester assuming people fly in a responsible manner (ie don't cut the power from 20' up over a hard floor). We recommend at least three Starter Packs. The Drone Clan Wars competition has 2 pilot teams. So 2 drones plus one backup. There are downloadable files in the Jump Start page.
Contact greggnovosad@yahoo.com for more information on where to purchase the Starter Kits.

Q: Is there programming?
A: Yes if you want to go in that direction. GoDroneX has Tynker, VEX and DIY projects. See the Jump Start page.

Q: Is this a classroom style program or an afterschool club?
A: That is your choice. Time requirements define level of involvement.  If you only have 1 hour a week then afterschool clubs make the most sense. Students can print printing PDFs and mounting them to foam board to make gates and portals. 

If your objective is programming / fabrication then classroom / makers space makes sense. We have Tynker, VEX and Arduino projects available.

More structured schools are running it like a sport. If that's the focus, then stick time and repair skills are most important.

Q: Can we 3D print anything?
A: You can but these little drones weigh 25 grams. The frames are 3 grams. There are no materials that have the strength / weight that will work from a 3D printer. Again, if your emphasis is on the build side then focus on fabricating course materials. That way when things go wrong at least the students are still flying which is very important for competitions. 

Q: How much time is needed after school?
A: At least 45 minutes but ideally 1.5 hours. It takes 15 minutes to get a course assembled and torn down.

Q: What is the lowest grade level?
A: Lower than you would imagine. If a student can play a video game they can fly. Your success will be determined on 1) how structured you run your program and 2) how many flights the students get. Following the steps laid out in the Badge Achievement Chart enables younger students success.

Q: How long does it take a student to be proficient?
A: 30 flights for the basics and 50 flights to be competitive. Ideally students should get at least 5 flights in a one hour practice. Students should be competitive in 6 weeks meeting once a week. But remember, competitions ramp up quickly, especially those starting in the spring. The three most important things about FPV drone flying is 1) stick time, 2) stick time and 3) stick time. If students only average 2 flights a week they will never get good and lose interest.  When I see empty pilot chairs that tells me that there is not enough flying going on.

Q: Any advise on getting kids more stick time?
A: I highly recommend letting students check out drones / charger / batteries just like a library book once they have earned a Silver Badge (see Skills Matrix). They should not bounce the drone (could lead to a broken frame) and know the 4 basic troubleshooting skills.

Q: What's the best way to run a performance based session?
A: Running a performance based drone club (non-gps drones) takes a little bit of learning. We recommend 2 teachers; one to oversee repairs and the other to run practice. But in the real world a two person teacher club is rare. So it is important to work smart not hard. Students should have rotating roles:
Course Crew designs and sets ups the course
Tech Lead helps others with troubled quads
Race Director makes sure everyone is on the correct channel and keeps a new flying group in the chairs every two minutes
Pit Leader keeps batteries charged and spare parts organized.

If students can take ownership of the above roles, the advisor job is manageable with one person.

So here is how successful sessions work:

Setup
1) Course Crew starts assembling the course the moment they walk through the door.
2) Race Director gets the bridge ready (pilots chairs & Frequency Tags, see Jump Start)
3) Tech Lead does triage to determine what are the quick drone fixes and what issues will take longer. Students with longer issues head to the designated "Faraday Room" or Maker Space. That is a safe place to work on drones that will not disturb others who are flying. Remember, you can't just plug a drone in when others are flying. Plugging in starts a video broadcast and will lead to video interference.
4) Pit Leader makes sure batteries are getting charged. This should already be done prior. The Starter Pack has 5 batteries per drone. It takes 20 minutes to charge a battery. Realistically you can get 6 flights in one hour per Pack and at the end of the session you will have a lot of drained batteries. Never come to practice without having all the batteries fully charged.

Structured Practice
5) Once setup is done, the Race Director starts getting "butts in seats". He pulls our his phone and starts a 2 min session. He gets students into the habit of getting in line so they are ready to go immediately once the prior session is complete. While waiting they shout out lap times and keep count of how many points a student scores in a 2 minute session. In essence they are emulating Drone Clan Wars competition. More advanced clubs will use the Tynker Scoring app to score practice sessions.

Tear Down
6) At the 10 minute left mark, the course gets torn down and roles for the next session are assigned. Badge Achievement Chart get updated.

Periodically you can do a special session like a Tynker program, construct a VEX robotic gate (we call them engagements), etc.

 

For more information contact greggnovosad@yahoo.com for more information on purchasing the Drone Starter Pack and getting involved in Drone Clan Wars.