Last month in Mediatech (our library-based tech center), I did something rather insane. I set up a drone flying station. The idea was that anybody — young or old — could try to take off and land a toy drone on a large platform. From a safety and logistics point of view, the idea is nuts, but I’m pleased to report that over 30 children had their first drone flying experience, and after two days there were no injuries or broken blades.
Why should every child fly a drone?
1. It uses an incredible mix of fine motor skills and spatial problem solving skills.
2. Chances are, there will be future job involving controlling something with similar types of controls.
3. The challenge is authentic. Unlike a screen-based experience, the crashes and landings are real.
• Use an off-the-shelf toy-store variety drone, with it’s own RC (remote control). We used a $50 Sky Viper Stunt Drone from Skyrocket toys with soft plastic (safe) blades, with blade protectors.
• If the child is under 6, be careful. They tend to fly the drone into the ceiling — over and over again.
• Give children a flying lesson with the drone turned off (hold the drone, and as they manipulate the controls, you simulate what it will do. That saves batteries and decreases crashes.
• Use bed sheets or fabric curtains to create a safe flying zone, and recruit a “drone catcher” who knows how to pick up a drone and avoid the blades.
• We could’ve used a second drone so that one could recharge while the other was in use, but that’s on our wish list for next year.
• Make sure you have large, clearly marked, take off and landing targets that are no more than 10 feet from one another. If you create this type of setting, your chances of success are far greater.
Article courtesy of Children’s Technology Review