SEL Learning in UAS4STEM

UAS4STEM is a drone engineering contest that is designed for students to learn, practice, and demonstrate plenty of sUAS knowledge and other skills such as mission planning, flight skills, data collection, analysis, and safety practices in a competitive environment.


While these skills are plenty impressive on their own, UAS4STEM allows competitors ages 11-19 to learn and understand Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) skills and concepts as well. The AMA Education Team took some time to compose a list of National Generation Science Standards (NGSS) that competitors will learn through the competition’s required Ground School component.

However, the STEM learning doesn’t stop just at Ground School. Once it comes time for teams to compete in both the preliminaries and the national competition, they are able to put their skills to the test and demonstrate their understanding of data collection, engineering practices, and developing solutions. Competitors undergo an impressive amount of STEM learning and implementation throughout their time competing. In fact, UAS4STEM student national competitors indicated that they feel more prepared to succeed in science, technology, engineering and math because of their participation within the competition.

But UAS4STEM teaches so much more than STEM skills and concepts.


UAS4STEM also addresses Social Emotional Learning (SEL). While SEL sounds like it would focus heavily on teaching youth to regulate their emotions and have positive interactions with their classmates, SEL goes much further beyond that.

There are five core competencies to SEL: self-awareness, self-management, responsible decision-making, relationship skills, and social awareness.

  • UAS4STEM encourages students to reflect on their individual strengths by choosing a unique role to play. Each role is vital to the success of the mission.
  • Throughout their time in the competition, students will have plenty of opportunities to try new skills and further develop their own skillsets. This only helps to grow their strength as pilots.
  • Students have a lot on their plates these days. Between academic commitments, extracurricular activities such as clubs and/or sports, jobs, and their personal lives, there’s not a lot of time to do much of anything else. Self-management is a crucial aspect of being heavily involved. The competitors do an awesome job of making everything work.
  • When it comes time to actually compete, there is much to be done. While teams have to work together to make sure that all necessary steps and precautions are taken, individuals must still do their part to ensure the team’s success. Being able to step back, assess the situation, and go from there are skills that are very important throughout life, and skills that these young participants are able to work on while competing.
Responsible Decision-Making:
  • There are so many decisions to be made throughout the UAS4STEM competition. Teams have to select components for their drones, strategize their flight plans, delegate roles and responsibilities, and so much more. Competitors are constantly having to make decisions, whether well in-advance or in the moment. The youth involved in the competition must constantly consider the consequences of their actions and make informed decisions.
Relationship Skills:
  • Teams need to be able to work well together to succeed. Because of the nature of the competition, teams must be able to effectively communicate. A team that does not work well together will not be able to do their best work. This is a collaborative competition; it cannot be done without a strong team.
Social Awareness:
  • When teams are able to communicate in a productive and efficient manner, it is likely that teammates will begin to have a much deeper respect for one another. Participants who do well in the competition begin to recognize and appreciate the different perspectives, skill sets, and strengths their team members bring to the competition.

Many teams many not join the UAS4STEM competition expecting to do any SEL learning, but it’s clear to see that these additional skills are ones that will benefit them in their future personal and professional lives. With all that there is to learn in the UAS4STEM competition, it’s easy to see why so many teams love UAS4STEM.

If you are interested in registering for UAS4STEM, now is the perfect time! You can fill out the registration form here, find out as much info as you need to know on our UAS4STEM site, and get planning as soon as possible!

If you have any question, you can always reach out to the AMA Education Team at

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