Drone pitch graphic

Teaching with Drones

Welcome to Teaching With Drones, a collection of activities that get students using drones to learn about engineering and technology.

Teaching Boxes are themed collections of classroom-ready educational resources to build student understanding of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM). Resources highlighted within teaching boxes are from various science education programs and all have been vetted by the education team at the UCAR Center for Science Education.

  • Topic: Engineering and Emergency Management
  • Level: Middle and high school
  • This collection of activities was developed as part of Engineering Experiences, a National Science Foundation-funded ITEST project (Award #1513102) with the Division of Research on Learning in Formal and Informal Settings (DRL). Engineering Experiences is designed to introduce and engage middle-school students to engineering during out-of-school time, and foster long-term interest and pathways into the field. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this activity are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.

Learn to Fly! UAV Flight School

Students learn basic aviation terminology and practice simple controls using a mock flight simulator and then fly UAVs (Unmanned Aerial Vehicles or "drones").

UAV Performance Test: Battery Lifetime

Students will conduct a simple performance test of aUAV (Unmanned Aerial Vehicle or "drone"). They will determine how long the UAV can remain airborne before its battery runs out of power.

UAV Performance Test: Carry a Payload

Students will test the ability of a UAV (Unmanned Aerial Vehicle or "drone") to lift and carry a weight. The weight simulates a payload, such as sensors or supplies, transported by the UAV.

UAV Challenge: Retrieve a Payload

Students use a UAV to pick up and carry a small payload, retrieving it from the far side of the room. Students design a "sky hook" to grab the payload.

UAV Challenge: Aerial Survey of a Disaster Area

Students will fly their UAVs over a scale-model town that has been struck with a disaster, surveying the damage via a camera on the UAV.

Planning a Disaster Relief Mission: Storyboarding

Students plan a disaster relief mission employing a UAV (drone) by filling in a comic book-like storyboard of engineering design steps.

UAV Challenge: Deliver Disaster Relief Supplies

Students use a UAV (Unmanned Aerial Vehicle or "drone") to conduct a simulated disaster relief mission.

How fast can my drone fly?

Design and conduct an experiment to find a practical maximum speed your UAV can fly.

How high is my drone flying?

Design and perform one or more experiments to help you identify a way to estimate your drone's height. Use your experience to judge which method provides the most accurate estimates.

View from a Drone: Make a 3D Model from Your Photos

Design and conduct an experiment to take enough photos to make a 3-dimensional image of an outcrop or landform.

Comparing Images from Drones with Satellite Images

Explore the basic concepts of remote sensing by comparing data collected by instruments on polar orbiting satellites with pictures and videos collected via cameras on recreational drones.

Drone Science Mission Board Game

Students play a board game that simulates the use of a drone aircraft to monitor a nearby volcano for signs of an impending eruption.