As part of Uganda Flying Labs’ ongoing mandate to nurture the knowledge of science and technology in the next generation, we continued with our initiative to run robotics (STEM) clubs in schools. Students in participating schools were invited to sign up for the club, both newcomers and those who had previously been part of the club. It was encouraging to see that the returning pupils were still enthusiastic about the program and wanted to get an extra feel of the drones.
Returning Pupils Take the Lead
It became tricky to decide on the learning material as a balance had to be struck to keep the sessions interesting for the returning ones while bringing on board the new signees who were not yet privy to the concepts of STEM. It was challenging, but we found a way. One strategy that we applied was to implore the returning students to take an active role in practical demonstrations, giving definitions for crucial aspects of Science and Technology and expounding on the functions of the components of the training kits.
Welcoming New Minds to STEM
For the sake of the new students, we conducted a brief run-through of the basic concepts of robotics coupled with simple demonstrations using the STEM kits. The students were led to appreciate and understand the core concepts behind some of the contemporary technologies used in the world, such as alarm systems, warning systems, and sensors, among others. The demonstrative exercises gradually increased in complexity, starting with basic kit assemblies of fans, motors, and light detectors to the power sources and culminating in simple analog systems and the incorporation of coding.
The most exciting session for the learners was the most complex. It entailed demonstrating collision avoidance technologies in vehicular systems using kit components such as ultrasonic sensors, wheels, coding modules infused with programming concepts for loops, and conditional functions using the Twin Coding application.
Teaching the Value of Drones for Development
Even more thrilling was the resumption of the drone lessons, where the robotics concepts were kicked up a notch with one of the latest developments in robotics technology: Unmanned Aerial Vehicles/Systems. In a carefully identified safe space and with a learner-friendly DJI Tello drone, the students had a chance to gain hands-on experience maneuvering these devices.
With the view to showing the importance of drones for development (beyond their well-known uses for recreation and videography), we took the students through the processes involved in conducting programmed flights, that is, without the requirement for manual handling of the controllers. We used TELLO EDU software downloaded on the mobile application. This approach gave the pupils a peek into one of the most prolific uses of drones, aerial mapping for agricultural and engineering works, among other development fields.
Demystifying Current Technologies
Uganda Flying Labs is committed to nurturing the young generation to appreciate the current technologies of the world today. Our program not only demystifies the core concepts behind these technologies but also ignites among youngsters an enduring passion for science and math, which they may initially find intimidating in the typical classroom environment. This program will contribute to national development as the world increasingly relies on technology to solve our challenges.