Creswell Middle School will add a class about drones and flight science as part of the science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) program.
This fall, Creswell Middle School will add a class about drones and flight science as part of the science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) program.
”We’re taking advantage of a great resource and partnering with other agencies here,” Todd Hamilton, superintendent, said. ”We want students to have relevance to their education.”
The class is part of a larger mission of the school district partnering with local businesses. One of the major potential partnerships will be with the Hobby Field Airport because it is looking to reevaluate their place in the community, Hamilton said.
Along with the growing popularity of drones, there are opportunities with airlines due to a shortage of pilots and airplane mechanics. Although it’s fairly expensive to receive a pilot license through the private sector (on average around $9,900 according to Chron media company), Creswell’s students have a pathway to explore this passion with little financial cost on their end through Hobby Field Airport.
”The City welcomes opportunities to partner with other local governments to provide programs and services for the community,” Michelle Amberg, city administrator, said. ”The drone program is what we hope will be the beginning the of STEM educational opportunities that will be available at the airport. The City has purchased a hangar that can be converted to a classroom. My hope is to someday have young people build a kit plane out at the Creswell Airport.”
While the partnership with the airport, and creating a plan for these opportunities are still in the development stages.
Janelle Sailer, who will teach the drone course, is excited for the ideas to turn to fruition.
”We are hoping that out of this class students will have an interest in aviation, both with aircraft and with drones,” she said. ”There are many facets into flying including pilots, mechanics, air traffic control that all need people to keep the industry going. I am hoping this class is an introduction to a class possibly offered at the high school later where the students can be prepared and take the Remote Pilot License test and be licensed drone pilots.”
Funding for the course comes from Measure 98, which supports looking differently at career pathways for students and dropout prevention. Flight science is considered a pathway, and the school has the ability to spend 15 percent of 8th grade funds, which is why the program is starting at the middle school.
Hamilton said he hopes to expand the program into the high school, but has to balance that with Sailer’s other duties as the 7th and 8th grade science teacher, as well as funding. Possible considerations down the line could be through a weekend seminar or evening courses.
It has also been suggested by a group of pilots in Creswell, who want to re-energize students about flight, that they could teach a class at the airport for students as well.
At the Airport Commissions’ last meeting, member Mike Anderson said the city has purchased a hanger at the airport that is now being leased to a man who fixes planes. Anderson said that the man is interested in leasing the space until the high school is ready to move into the space.
Anderson said the attitude about boards partnering has changed in recent years.
”Now everyone is excited to work with the school and the city,” he said. ”It’s coming together.”
Amberg said that this is, ”A wonderful example of how the school district and the city have found common ground to build on.”
The drone class will be a semester long, although that could be subject to change, and will have at most 20 students. The prerequisite for the class is Intro to Coding, which Sailer taught last year. She said the material will range from the science of flight, the history of flight, history and structure of drones, flying/coding with drones and intro to Federal Aviation Administration Part 107 unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) drone pilot’s license.
Sailer also received her UAS license in order to qualify for teaching the course.
”I am most looking forward to establishing the program, encourage students to get into aviation and pursue a career they will enjoy,” Sailer said. ”With access to an airport so close to the district, the possibilities are endless and I am very excited to see where that relationship leads in the future.”