NEWARK, NJ - Chatham High senior Carson Storm wanted to bring some of what he's experienced with STEM to other children.
"I have a lot of resources at my school," Storm said. "I've been very blessed in that I could get exposed to this stuff very easily. So being able to take this to places like Newark, where these kids would never had been exposed, the hope is we're reaching them. Even if they don't become an engineer, at least they know technology isn't this magic black box. They have an idea how it works."
Storm held a class for 24 kids at the Boys & Girls Club of Newark from Monday through Friday, ending on Aug. 18 and culminated by the students flying drones donated to JerseySTEM by Parrot Education.
The half-day summer course titled "Things that Fly" is a pilot program written and taught by Storm that he hopes can be incorporated into middle school classrooms.
"We're developing a curriculum and trying to to write a program so we can hand it off to teachers in JerseySTEM and out of JerseySTEM that they can take it into the classroom," Storm said. "This class was kind of a test to see what works. What it will be when we're done is a 10-week course made up of 10 classes of two hours each, where they'll learn something new each class."
The Boys & Girls Club kids learned some physics and were asked to research what kind of jobs they could seek in STEM and other uses they could find for drones. On Friday, in the hands-on part of the class, the students flew the drones in the gym.
Some of the drones crashed into the wall and one got stuck near the ceiling in the gym divider. But by the end of the class, many were easily controlling the drones and making them do flips.
Jaeda Havard and Oscar Granados of the Boys & Girls Club test out their drone
The goal is to take these curriculums to middle schoolers in Chatham, Newark, Dover, Elizabeth and all over, according to Storm.
"They were actually very intrigued by all of this," Storm said of the students. "Flying drones isn't entirely easy. They learned a lot about physics on the first day. I don't think any of these kids knew what drag or lift was coming in. Now they at least have a basic idea. I don't think any of them would have guessed how they can use drones.
"We talked a little about the more broad-bases uses for drones, such as photography and mapping. Then they went out and found articles on examples of other uses for drones. For the kids who go into engineering, even if they don't go into drones, they have a context to draw from."
Parrot Education donated 12 mini drones to support JerseySTEM’s five half-day summer program, which includes a curriculum that teaches students about flight principles, drone flying, drone programing and applications of UAVs. The tablets (used for Tynker coding) were provided by Samsung and the laptops by JerseySTEM.
“This program is a testament to JerseySTEM’s ability to help expose youth in underserved areas to cutting-edge technologies that are shaping our world--ultimately helping to produce the next generation of innovators in STEM,” Monique Freeman, a spokeswoman for JerseySTEM, said. “Mobilizing resources from leading technology companies like Parrot and partnering with local community organizations, like the Boys & Girls Club of Newark is critical in expanding access to innovative STEM education in New Jersey."