Indoor Quadcopter Test Flight

Indoor Test Flight

Okay, after the first crash and getting some safety glasses, the boys were eager to continue testing their QC out.  We finally secured an empty room in the rec center as its the perfect place where there isn’t any furniture and is big enough to do figure 8s.

We hope to have its maiden flight during the school’s Field Day and introduce it to the whole school community.

Hit The Kill-Switch Now! Our School’s Quadcopter Is Taking Off…

School Quadcopter
School Quadcopter
And its going, going…

First Flight

Our 8th graders brought out the school’s first quadcopter (QC) on its first test flight. Inside the safety of the little greenhouse next to the science lab, the QC went airborne for the first time! All went well, until they lost control and it started to fly away on its own! It seems that the QC is pretty powerful and the controls are very sensitive. 

Kill Switch Now!

In the brainstorming session before they flew the QC, the boys smartly programmed a safety kill-switch to make sure that if something like this did happen, it would land safely and away from harm.  Luckily, no one got hurt and all is well.
Back to make some tweaks!

8th Grade Quadcopter Project

Very quickly, I wanted to share what was delivered to the Spark Studio. Our school quadcopter has finally arrived!

The anticipation of starting the “Quadcopter Project,” has been tremendous! Everyday, a few of our 8th grade students have checked in with us to see if it has arrived. After some delays in getting one (they are very popular!), the boys got even more anxious. Sometimes they’ve come in three to four times a day just to see if its on its way!

Now that it has arrived, we have a strong feeling that the boys will be in the studio even more!

Several of our 8th graders are taking on this project. We encouraged them to “make something” that will encourage them to learn something important that they know nothing about. As a collaborative team, they will be documenting the process of building and controlling the quadcopter. We will link their blog once its set up.

Before we even decided to start this student-generated project, we had the students justify this project to Mr. Dominguez. Mr. Dominguez and I posed many important questions that comes with a big learning project like this. Here are some questions we asked:

  • What is the educational connection? What can you learn from this?
  • What will you need to learn? Which academic subjects/standards can help you in building this?
  • Who will be working on this project?
  • How will you work as a team? What happens if a teammate isn’t cooperating?
  • What is the timetable?
  • How will you control it?
  • What if it breaks? How will you troubleshoot problems?
  • Why should you learn electronics/robotics in this particular way?
  • Why this kit? What parts do you need? What is the cost? Are there alternatives to this kit?
  • How can you extend the learning process? What can you do with it once its built?
  • How can next year’s 8th grade class and the year after that, use this?
  • What are pros and cons?

…and so on. As you can see, its an undertaking that will require a lot to learn. They will need to learn the principles of mechanical engineering, embedded systems, programming, robotics and flight dynamics (roll, pitch, yaw), Being undeterred, the students wanted to make it happen and agreed to see this through.

Our goal is to help our students learn about robotics and demystify them. Building this quadcopter offers the visual stimulation of system interaction with the real physical world. We anticipate that troubleshooting will be a big component. With our new school MakerBot 3D Printer, our students can also learn how to design, and fabricate replacement parts or create a new, one of the kind part for the quadcopter.

What’s exciting to us, is seeing and FEELING the excitement and enthusiasm our students have for this project. They are learning–for the fun of it! Their curiosity has been sparked!

More to come! In the meantime, here are a couple of videos about quadcopters and see others have done with them.

This TED Talk demonstrates what concepts can be learned in building quadcopters


Here is a recent video of a Quadcopter filming a stampede of dolphins!

Our School Quadcopter Has Arrived!

Our School Quadcopter Has Arrived!

Our 8th Grade Quadcopter Project has started. After a long delay, it is here and our boys are super excited. I hope to get the boys to do a walkthrough of the various parts and document the process of building it.

One of the biggest questions I have in this project, is: Why have a quadcopter in school? What’s the learning value in this? A lot actually.

To be continued!