drone math lesson plan World of Drones Education Catherine Ball drones STEM

A drone math lesson plan: how to use drones to teach calculus

Want to bring real-world challenges to your calculus class? These drone math lesson plans show you how to use a drone to make calculus a little cooler.

World of Drones Education, a web portal for educators that curates content for teachers and produces STEM master classes, just dropped a new drone math lesson module called “Maths For Drones: State Space Modelling.”

As part of the drone math lesson plan, students do an activity where they measure the flight speed of a drone using video analysis. The measurements gained from this activity are used in a rescue-based design challenge.

These are no elementary school questions. The course is designed for students with at least knowledge of basic calculus and simple aerodynamics. Here’s a snippet from their lesson plan:

To take it even further, advanced students could use calculus to determine the exact location the drone hits the ground if they ignore drag.

Other components of the lesson plan include measuring flight speed, designing an optimal flight plan for a drone that has to fly through a cave for a search and rescue mission, and modeling power to weight ratios to determine how much weight a drone can hold. The lesson plans are based on flying Parrot drones, which cost less than $50.

It’s something I wish my own calculus class offered when I was in high school. Putting real world examples to the test in classrooms has been proven to keep students more engaged, and a drone is a pretty fun type of real-world example.

Related read: What’s the best educational drone for a STEM program?

World of Drones Education, which offers the lesson plan, is the brainchild of Dr. Catherine Ball, who also created the annual World of Drones Congress conference in Australia. Dr. Ball is known for her humanitarian drone work and has worked on past drone projects such as SheFlies.

What’s more, the lesson plans are free for teachers and educators (though you must submit a brief application to be considered for World of Drones complimentary membership, which allows you to download the lesson plan). Otherwise, lesson plans can be download through a VIP Level Access membership, which costs $500 AUD annually, and includes some additional goodies that the free membership does not.

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