Drone Academy students reaching new heights

Learning is really taking off for our Upper Primary School students.

The Years 5/6 boys have completed a four-week “Drone Academy” program under the guidance of Matt Richards, from Matt Richards Creative Digital Learning.

Mr Richards has been regularly working with our boys since the introduction of one-to-one iPads for all students from Reception to Year 6 at the start of the 2023 school year.

As part of the Drone Academy program, the boys were taught how to write code to control the drones, culminating in a “mission” where they had to complete a very specific task. Mr Richards – a certified CASA drone pilot – said Blackfriars was one of very few schools to offer Drone Academy at a Primary School level.

The Years 5/6 students get the drones moving.

“Very few students of this age can grasp this level of coding,” Mr Richards said of the Year 5/6 cohort.

He said, in the rapidly evolving landscape of education, innovative teaching was crucial to keep students engaged and excited about learning.

“Fun and engaging hands-on experience can often be the most effective teacher,” said Mr Richards, a Apple Professional Learning Specialist.

“The Drone Academy at Blackfriars has embraced this. Students didn’t just learn about drones; they are became coders, employing mathematics and exploring the principles of navigation and problem-solving as they took flight.

“This practical approach to learning had a profound impact on the students, transforming them from passive learners into active, inquisitive thinkers. Little did they realise how much maths they are utilising. The Drone Academy at Blackfriars … has continued to empower our students to become fearless learners of the future.”

Head of Primary Emma Begg said the Drone Academy program, as well as the other iPad learnings under Mr Richard’s guidance, had been an overwhelmingly positive addition to the curriculum.

“The Drone Academy program was a huge hit with our students, who capably took on the coding challenge presented by Mr Richards,” Ms Begg said.

Year 6 student Vinnie Pinneri agreed: “The things I like about Drone Academy is that you can learn new things and it’s cool to code drones. It also was cool because it was a new experience and we liked how we did something new outside of class.”

Meanwhile, Mr Richards said the introduction of one-on-one iPads across the Primary School had created opportunity for creative expression, real-world connections and, above all, relevant and contemporary opportunities for students to engage with their learning.

“While the notion of digital devices for students isn’t new, what we have been able to achieve in just one year has been phenomenal,” he said.

“Beyond starting with basic digital skills, our students have been busy building interactive books, making the most out of media tools, exploring music creation, learning design techniques to impress and even using text-based code to build functional apps. As the year draws to a close, we have been beyond impressed at what our students have only begun to achieve. And as we roll into 2024, we cant wait to see the next chapter of innovation from our creative students and teachers.”

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