By JULIA BIGGS firstname.lastname@example.org
Thirteen Edwardsville High School students, divided into two teams, sat around a table with two sealed boxes on it. SIUE Geography Professor Randy Pearson instructed the students to start as the students tore into the boxes pulling out parts and instructions as a handful of adults stood around the perimeter of the room watching. The students had just begun the AMA (Academy of Model Aeronautics) UAS4STEM Search and Rescue Challenge.
UAS4STEM, a new STEM program designed for students age 11 to 19, encourages students to explore the sUAS (drone) phenomenon by working as a team to construct and program a quad-copter to autonomously maneuver around a specific geographical area while completing pre-programmed tasks. The teams give an oral briefing to the judges that explains the operation and safety of their flight plan as well as the methods they devised to accomplish the quad-copter’s required tasks.
This new EHS STEM team activity began when Scott Fitzgerald, an EHS parent who has coordinated STEM projects through the district’s elementary schools in recent years, learned of the UAS4STEM contest. It had traditionally been a collegiate level contest, but was being offered this year to younger students and Fitzgerald thought it was a great opportunity for EHS students.