The following is a news release and photos from the Idaho STEM Action Center.
IDAHO FALLS — The Idaho STEM Action Center recently awarded more than $147,000 in grants to equip 22 schools and libraries throughout the Gem State with drones, including four sites in Eastern Idaho.
Teachers, librarians, and staff from Bingham Academy, Blackfoot High School, Madison High School, Teton Elementary School, and the other sites joined trainers from Idaho-based PCS Edventures and its Thrust-UAV division at a drone flight school in Boise last week. The two-day workshop taught grant recipients how to build, operate, maintain, modify, and race the unmanned aerial vehicles and pass that knowledge onto kids.
According to STEM Action Center executive director Angela Hemingway, drones are a great way to engage kids in science, technology, engineering, and math, and the aircraft can even be incorporated into curriculum for classes like social studies and PE.
“Kids are naturally curious, and although many have heard about drones they may not have had an opportunity to interact with one, so drones are an easy way to get kids interested in STEM,” she says. “Plus, drones are very hands-on, and working with them utilizes all four of the core STEM disciplines — science, technology, engineering, and math. We’re hoping our drones inspire students who may not have considered a career in a STEM field.”
Hemingway says the effort is also a great way to help lure more high-tech jobs and higher wages to the state as Idaho continues to develop a workforce with the skills employers are seeking.
“Idaho’s tech sector is the second fastest-growing in the nation at 6.3 percent, and 80 percent of all jobs will require technology skills within the next 20 years,” she says. “There will be a significant increase in jobs that require proficiency in piloting and programming drones.”
In March Fortune magazine reported the Federal Aviation Administration expects the number of drone pilots to grow nearly 13-fold to 281,300 by 2021. It says the FAA predicts the number of hobbyist-owned drones will reach 3.6 million by 2021 — more than triple last year’s 1.1 million. It also anticipates business usage will increase tenfold during the same timeframe from 42,000 drones in 2016 to 442,000 in 2021.
Hemingway says the state’s initial efforts to leverage this trend will outfit the following 22 sites with full classroom sets of drones made by one of the industry’s leading manufacturers:
Bingham Academy, Blackfoot
Blackfoot High School, Blackfoot
Cascade Schools, Cascade
Centennial High School, Boise
Culdesac School, Culdesac
East Junior High School, Boise
Fremont County Joint School District #215, St. Anthony
Glenns Ferry Public Library, Glenns Ferry
Hailey Public Library, Hailey
Hillside Junior High School, Boise
Kamiah School District #304, Kamiah
Madison High School, Rexburg
Mountain View Alternative High School, Rathdrum
New Plymouth School District, New Plymouth
Nezperce Junior High School, Nezperce
Ridgevue High School, Nampa
Salmon Public Library, Salmon
South Junior High School, Boise
Syringa Middle School, Caldwell
Treasure Valley Math and Science Center, Boise
Vallivue Middle School, Caldwell
West Minico Middle School, Paul
Mike Price, EastIdahoNews.com
Bill Schiess, EastIdahoNews.com columnist