News

Mid-Prairie Middle Schoolers exploring science options with drones

GTNS photo by Gretchen Teske

Mid-Prairie Middle School eighth-grader Amara Jones works diligently on fixing a drone. Jones is part of the How Tunes Science club offered at MPMS.
GTNS photo by Gretchen Teske Mid-Prairie Middle School eighth-grader Amara Jones works diligently on fixing a drone. Jones is part of the How Tunes Science club offered at MPMS.
/

Mid-Prairie Middle School students were given a unique opportunity to learn about drones thanks to a teacher who is looking out for their future.

Jessica Swartzentruber, a science teacher at Mid-Prairie, said the idea came from a conference she attended a few years ago that inspired her to find ways to get kids excited about science.

“I’d gone to a professional development and the presenter said that one of the top jobs in 2040 was going to be a drone operator,” she said. “So as I was sitting in that class, I was like, ‘Oh, we don’t do anything in the high school with drones, that I know of, and we don’t do anything in middle school.’”

Swartzentruber then applied for a grant through the school district and was able to purchase 18 small drones and three larger ones complete with cameras. This year, 25 students were part of the How Tunes Science Club and learned everything from putting the drones together piece by piece to how to properly fly the device.

Amara Jones, an eighth-grader, had never used drones before joining the club but likes to try new things. She said putting the drone together from pieces was the hardest part but it all paid off in the end.

“It just seemed fun and it was pretty fun,” she said. “It was just fun learning new things and everything about that.”

Seventh-grader Jacob Donaldson has used drones in the past but joined the club anyway to polish his skills. He said he likes the freedom and flexibility it allows him to try new things.

“It sounded like fun, just seeing what you can do, like pushing the limits with flips and just learning to be better at stuff,” he said.

Swartzentruber said seeing the kids get excited about using drones is her favorite part of the club and she hopes they take what they have learned with them and translate it into future jobs. She said the whole reason she started the group was to get kids exposed to various technologies they may see in their futures.

“Unfortunately, we don’t know what the future is going to hold, so there are jobs that we don’t even know about that are going to exist when these guys get to the point where they are looking for careers,” she said. “So getting them exposed to as many different technologies I think is important because the drone use we have today is going to be drastically different in 2040.”