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Vista Peak Exploratory School in Aurora adds drones to its curriculum

Posted: 8:07 AM, Aug 19, 2019
Updated: 2019-08-19 10:38:26-04
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AURORA, Colo. — The library inside Vista Peak Exploratory School in Aurora isn't just for reading and research anymore. Every once in a while, it's turned into an airspace for drones.

Technology teacher Kimberly Culhane has been watching the evolution of technology over the years. She came up with the idea to teach her students the practice of piloting a drone.

"Drone use has actually increased in all sorts of industries," she said. "It’s becoming very exciting. It’s opening up lots of possibilities for future careers."

Culhane sets up different stations during class. In turn, students navigate their drones through an obstacle course in the middle of the library.

The tasks vary. Sometimes, students are tasked with flying over a doll house to take photos of it for a real estate business. Sometimes they have to hover over "wildlife" to do counts and more photography.

"I think it's getting us ready for what we want to do when we're older," said student Felicia Aragon. "If we enjoy this right now, we might want to go to college and pursue photography."

For the students, they know the class isn't meant for just fun and games.

"We're the next generation," said eighth grader Thad Holmes. "We will learn how to use drones. We can also do other things with drones. We could invent something."

The drones cost the school about $3,000. The program is supported by matching funds from the Aurora Public Schools's Learning Resources Department.

A technology grant through the Career and Technical Education program at Pickens Technical College also helped pay for the drones, according to APS. The grant recognizes the essential need for students to have hands-on experience with STEM technologies prior to entering high school, the school district said.

Culhane hopes more schools across the country will add drone classes to their curriculum.