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Thanks to funds from the Nevada NASA Space Grant, a group of secondary STEM teachers were able to take part in a multi-faceted program designed to inspire learning engagement by encouraging teachers to incorporate drones in the classroom. The effort was developed and led by aviation instructors and other educators from Clark County School District (CCSD), Nevada State College (NSC), and the Desert Research Institute (DRI). Five undergraduate and pre-service teachers also helped conduct the work. The 25 participating in-service teachers were selected through a competitive application process, and went to DRI and NSC where they received online and on-site training, programming experience, and flight practice using flight simulators and actual drones. The knowledge and experience gained has already generated interest and excitement, with teachers reporting a combined impact on over 2000 of the students they teach.

nvadvantagePhysics teacher, Jamie DeSoto, accepts her award for innovative excellence in the design of a lesson incorporating Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS). With her are Sarah Bryans-Bongey, Principle Investigator and Assistant Professor from Nevada State College, and Craig Rosen, Co-Principle Investigator and Professional Development Administrator from the Desert Research Institute

The teacher-participants took part in a lesson plan competition where they developed outstanding lesson plans that use drones to mobilize student interest in a variety of STEM fields. In addition to the plaque, Ms. DeSoto’s award also funded a field trip in which she brought her Physics students to NSC for hands-on practice with the drones. A subset of the resulting lesson plans, including materials needed to implement them, will be shared across Nevada. This is accomplished through the grant’s support for a circulating “Green Box” kit designed and managed by the Desert Research Institute to help teachers capitalize on this innovative use of drones in the curriculum.

In addition to reaching in-service teachers, 19 students in NSC’s teacher preparation program used drones as part of EDU 214: Preparing Teachers to Use Technology. They programmed and flew drones and shared ideas on how they might incorporate these exciting devices in their own future classrooms.

NASA Content and Resources Used:

In creating their own lesson plans, content and resources from the NASA database and EPSCoR provided guidance and inspiration. The online course specifically included NASA content on 5 E Lesson planning as a means of assisting teachers who were often new to this design. NASA affiliates, Karen Roark, Barbie Buckner, and Michelle Berry, also provided suggestions, contacts, and resources. The grant funding from NASA and the Nevada System of Higher Education, was essential to an endeavor that continues to have a positive impact on student engagement in STEM across Nevada. 

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This material is based upon work supported by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration under Grant/Contract/ Agreement No. NNX10AN23H issued through Nevada Space Grant Consortium. 2017