Drones offer campers learning experience outside the classroom

High school students learning how to fly drones.

High school students attending the GIS Summer Camp learn how to fly drones and radio-controlled at Cradle Beach camp on the shore of Lake Erie. Photos: Douglas Levere

By ROBBY JOHNSON

 

The high school students stared at the sky in awe as a drone continued to climb in altitude Monday morning over Cradle Beach, a campground on the shore of Lake Erie in Angola.

Piloting the drone was Le Wang, a professor in UB’s Department of Geography. Wang had just finished a quick lecture for the kids on remote sensing and now he was putting the concept into practice.

The drone, a DJI Phantom 4, was equipped with a camera and sent a live video feed to a smart phone connected to its remote. With the live feed, Wang could direct the drone out of sight as he took overlapping photos of the lakeshore.

This flying exercise was part of this year’s GIS Summer Camp, presented by UB’s Geo-Technology Experiences for Students and Teachers (GTEST) project. The project, funded by a three-year award from the National Science Foundation, aims to teach concepts and skills of geo-technology to high-potential high school students from high-need areas.

“These are very motivated students and they ask very good questions,” Wang said. “They want to learn new knowledge and incorporate what they’re taught in class to the real world. When they later pursue undergraduate degrees, they’ll have some prior knowledge on how things like geospatial data can be used for real-world applications, so that is really the impact we’re trying to reach here.”

GTEST is a multidisciplinary effort at UB, with faculty members from five different departments taking part. Helping Wang at Cradle Beach this day was Joseph A. Gardella Jr., the John and Frances Larkin Professor of Chemistry; Ling Bian, professor of geography; John Cerne, professor of physics; Xiufeng Liu, professor of learning and instruction; and Sandro Sodano, associate professor of counseling, school and educational psychology.

 

Published July 19, 2018

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