Programming with drones

In 2018 Paul spent considerable time developing his knowledge and understanding of how block coding worked and used this with his 5/6 class to program Sphero robots. In 2019 he has continued to extend and develop his knowledge of programming, using the Parrot Mambo drones with his class.

This Digital Technologies unit involved students extending their knowledge of block coding, learning about drone safety, how to manually fly the drones, understanding and using the Tynker app, and programming the drones through an obstacle course. Students also had to use a variety of interpersonal skills to successfully work with a partner during the program.

As with most technologies being used for the first time the drones required a significant amount of persistence and problem solving. In preparation Paul did taught himself how to use the drones ensuring he knew some of the issues students would face when working with the drones. The students demonstrated considerable problem solving skills and a good understanding of block coding to achieve the end goal of moving their drones through a series of obstacles.

Comments made by the students included:

  • “We had to make sure we put in the correct information to make the drones work, things like height, distance and time”.
  • “I really liked making the drones flip and do 360 degree turns, being able to program the drone was fun”.
  • “It was fun working with a partner to program the drones. I enjoyed interacting with the drone rather than just sitting at a computer”.
  • “We had some problems connecting to the drones sometimes but most of the time they worked well”.
  • “It was fun flying the drones but it was a challenge to program them correctly”.

Links to the 5/6 Digital Technologies Australian Curriculum

Achievement Standard: Students plan, design, test, modify and create digital solutions that meet intended purposes including user interfaces and a visual program.

Content Descriptor: Implement digital solutions as simple visual programs involving branching, iteration (repetition), and user input (ACTDIP020).

Elaboration: Programming a robot to operate independently through an obstacle course.

Students program drones to move through an obstacle course

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