Know Before You Fly – Call 5: Student Drone Kits Post-Project Update

Call 5 required the Academy of Model Aeronautics project team, in partnership with colleagues at the FAA, to create and distribute 2500 ‘advanced drone lesson in a box’ kits to public and public charter high schools, public housing authorities, and other youth-focused nonprofit organizations. The purpose of the drone kits was to help teach 9th grade through 12th grade students about science, aerodynamics, engineering principles, aviation principles, drones, and safe flying practices. Additionally, this effort encouraged 9th through 12th grade students to pursue careers in aviation-related fields, in support of the FAA’s Aviation and Space Education (AVSED) goals.

Though the official project performance period ended in September 2023, educators have continued to implement the drone kits with students and provide feedback regarding the experience.

We are excited to share that two recipients had such an enthusiastic response from their students to the drone kits that they have now registered to participate in AMA’s UAS4STEM educational drone engineering challenge. Students learn to build, program and fly a large drone to complete a mission as a team in a supportively competitive environment. The competition provides in-depth technical drone experience, a comprehensive virtual ground school which prepares students to earn their Part 107 license, and develops crucial career skills. These students had their interest sparked by the Call 5 student drone kits and are now in a direct pipeline to our nation’s aviation and STEM workforce.

We would like to share some of the narratives provided by kit recipients after the official close of the project:

JROTC LTC Thomas Krupp – George Rogers Clark High School

We have begun our new drone curriculum thanks to your organization as of last week! Our students were introduced to drones in general through videos and a demonstration of one of the New Bee Drone kits that we built in advance as an exemplar. The students were issued the kits and conducted an inventory, and watched portions of the build video from your website in order to prime them for the build, which is going to start next week. We’ll be watching the build video, following along in the instruction booklet, and pausing at each major step in the process so the class stays together.

We have distributed 48 kits so far, for four (4) classes, with students grouped into teams of three (assigned as pilots, navigators and mechanics as they love that kind of stuff). They have also created ‘call signs’ for their drone teams.

We did follow the recommendation to purchase and have tweezers on hand for the build, as the parts are extremely small and we decided that it would be best to have those available. We also purchased a large (100 port) USB charging station and had our students work out how best to charge the goggles, batteries, and controller. We did notice that based on the included charging cables, the controller and the batteries cannot be charged at the same time.

Following the build, we plan on using your TRUST course to get the students certified. We had several students finish their build and were ready to try the drone out; we gave a very quick pre-flight class in order to get them in the air as soon as possible- we bypassed the flight simulator suggestion as we knew they wouldn’t be able to wait.

Overall, we have already had great success with our students with getting these drones in the air despite skipping the simulator; many have been able to control the drone easily- hovering in place like pros, immediately, without having any prior practice with this drone.


Daniel Picardo – Board of Directors, MN ACE Camp

First, thank you so much for allowing us to participate in the Know Before You Fly program by sharing these drone kits with the students of the Minnesota ACE Camp in 2023! Next, thank you for the patience in receiving this feedback from us. Kelly and I are both coming back from extended leave periods with the ACE Camp and realized we had not given you the feedback you requested before we departed.

While our mission as an organization is to connect students with opportunities to explore a wide variety of fields and interests, many of our students come to the camp with preconceived ideas of the careers and interests they want to pursue. For some, that means they are only focused on becoming a pilot, a flight attendant, or perhaps an air traffic controller. Others are more interested in photographing aircraft and being near the action. But almost none of our students come to camp knowing the capacity they have to challenge themselves, to accomplish things they’ve never done, and to use their own hands and minds to create something that could contribute to aviation. And participation in the Know Before You Fly program gave them that in this year’s camp!

It was incredible to see students who had never made anything before recognizing the spark of interest that was kindled as they assembled the drones, and to hear the sense of pride and accomplishment they felt as they got them flying for the first time. Among the most notable reactions were those of student Natalie L (photographs attached) as she worked through the drone-building process – she was initially very hesitant to work on the drone, so she was only half-heartedly approaching the activity. As she was able to proceed step-by-step, however, she became more focused and obviously proud as she made the connections between circuit board, rotors, camera, and chassis. Her excitement was electric as she put the finishing touches on her drone and was the first in the group to get one flying! Her success encouraged the other students to redouble their own efforts, and she even began stepping into a leadership role to help others
complete their drones. Natalie expressed that she never thought she would be able to do something like that, but now she was definitely interested in electronics as a career and would be talking with her parents about taking electronics courses after camp.

In career education for high school students, it is rare to see the outcomes of our efforts in a measurable or recognizable way until years after the fact, but the drones you were able to provide gave us one of the most immediate demonstrations of the influence we can have with our students that I have seen in over 12 years of volunteer work. Again, we very much appreciate the opportunity to participate in the Know Before You Fly program, and we can only hope that you are able to support us in the same way in coming years!

From all of us at the Minnesota ACE Camp, thank you!


Kenneth R. Mackie, EMPA – Director, Upward Bound Programs, Southern University and A&M College

We are having a Drone Assembly Day. A team from each of our ten (10) Upward Bound Programs will compete to assemble and fly an inside course. A first, second, and third place team will be awarded. We have teamed with the Baton Rouge branch of IBM to serve as coaches/advisors for each team. The Upward Bound staff and I are very excited to be part of this occasion. […] This is the first step in a series of events to introduce over six hundred (600) students to drone technology and its usage.

James Keough – Challenger Center of the Twin Tiers

Tutorial video is well done. Kyle has excellent diction and projection. His directions are clear and very helpful. It should also be noted that the included documentation (directions), while helpful is not adequate and would be a real chore to complete this build with a group using only these directions.

The drone, goggles, and controller are fairly robust save one element explained below. Built-in battery packs are a real convenience. All technology worked on the first try! Other than incorrect placement of props, no troubleshooting was required. It’s nice that once completed, components nest together for transport.

Associated resource links are very helpful and appreciated.

This was a great incentive to get students interested in aviation and associated careers.

Areas needing improvement:
It was not clear how far motors needed to be inserted into airframe. At first, we thought they needed to be fully seated which is not the case. Trying to get them fully seated was difficult and resulted in one broken casing.

The plastic motor caps are difficult to attach and, in many cases, impossible without risking airframe damage. We simply left the troublesome ones off.

In the tutorial video, the “More Videos” advertisement banner appears each time video is paused. This banner blocks what needs to be seen. It can be closed out but is annoying to have to do so at each video pause.

Although the drone lens cap can be seen off lying next to airframe, it would be helpful to mention it in the audio since camera cannot be installed with it on.

The white lead wire on the camera board is extremely sensitive and fragile. Half (5 out of 10) were dislodged upon installation making it necessary to get duplicates from other kits. It appears the manufacturer realized this and place a dollop of glue on the three wires. However, the white one either had been missed, or not enough of the glue got on it to secure it to the board.

The props are not easily identified. This is critical since placing them on the wrong motors yields the drone unflyable. Some type of marking is needed. Color coded or labeling would solve this issue.

The Tiny Whoop Go program is a nice offering. However, this instructor could not get it up and running on a MacBook Pro. Either the computer or software would not recognize the drone controller. Another controller was used and again, not recognized. The software offers no support. We will continue to troubleshoot it with other OS systems and controllers and possibly see success at some point, but it will all be trial and error.

Isaias Alezones – Founder, Saiasi Foundation
We held our second workshop at the Coastal Alabama Community College for the DOE Upward Bound program students there. This is an ongoing partnership of the Department with the college, and now with the Saiasi Foundation. Once our grounds are completed, the students will be transported via bus to my location where everything RC is located including a 4×4 track, a pond for underwater, and fenced area for aerial. These are all photography-capable vehicles. Here are a couple of pictures while doing the second drone kit workshops at the college library. It was awesome and the kids enjoyed it greatly. Very smart fellows. Thanks again and I will continue programming the third and fourth workshops with the South Choctaw Academy and the Patrician Academy private schools in the county. I will keep you posted.


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