With conspicuous educational potential, integrating drone technology in STEAM learning and 21st century skills development has become a hot topic in education. Yet many drone-related learning activities such as drone-racing and drone-making are being reported, innovative pedagogical models connecting drones to the cultivation of transversal competences are limited. We would like to share the experience on the implementation of this structuralized interdisciplinary drone-based project that is hoped will be useful to educational practitioners interested in exploring the strategies promoting creativity, collaboration and entrepreneurship education.
INTERDISCIPLINARY DRONE-BASED PROGRAMME FOR 21ST CENTURY SKILLS DEVELOPMENT
The programme lasted 10 months and comprised two phases, namely the Knowledge Developing Phase and Engineering Problem-solving Phase.
The 36-hour Phase One covered six experiential learning modules:
- Drone Science and Technology,
- Programmed Flight
- Drones, Geometry and Trigonometry
- Coding and Engineering Design
- Drones and Environmental Science
- Future Application of Drones
By the end of Phase One, students applied the knowledge acquired and creativity to present entrepreneurship proposals on benefitting the society with drone technology. The proposals should leverage on the advantages of technology while striking a balance between innovation, feasibility, safety and cost effectiveness. To tie in with various interdisciplinary themes, alumni working in related fields (e.g. aerophysics, surveying and valuation, stream water analysis, market strategising, etc.) were invited to share career insights and explore possible applications of drone technology to workflow.
The 12-hour Phase Two consisted of a series of engineering tasks during which students developed a drone-assisted water sampling system to collect water samples from rivers and coastal areas. Measuring water samples’ hardness, total dissolved solids and nitrate nitrogen content would then reveal the extent of pollution in the waterbodies concerned.
SHARING OF LEARNING EXPERIENCE & PROGRAMME DEVELOPMENT
To promote the drone-based learning strategies, students shared their knowledge, skills and learning experience with other schools as well as in exhibition occasions enthusiastically. Teachers also took part in various seminars and conferences to present experiences in the programme implementation, including the challenges encountered, the direction of future development and effective applications of technology in the realms of 21st Century Skills education.
The project was selected to the “Global Spotlight of Employability” by HundrED, the Finnish innovative educational organization, and honoured with the NXTEducator Global Educational Innovation Award by Sayling Wen Cultural & Educational Foundation in 2019.