Next up in our “Ask Drone Girl” series is about getting young kids — particularly young girls — interested in drones. If you have a question for Drone Girl, contact her here.
I’m writing is because of a recent post you made about the demographics of drone pilots – something like only 8% are women. Interestingly, my two girls (7 and 9) are interested in learning how to fly drones, etc.
Do you know of any drone curricula or programs for elementary-school aged girls to introduce them to drones, flight, etc and get them flying with basic drones? Are there organizations out there who you might recommend who focus on getting girls into drones?
Great question! Yes, the latest FAA data shows that women make up 7.9% of all certified remote pilots. The blog post you mentioned, which digs deeper into that data, lives here.
Happily, it sounds like your girls are interested in drones and that they’ll contribute to bucking that trend!
To answer your question, I have a few guides that will hopefully point you in the right direction and that contain recommendations that your girls might love:
The best STEM drones, lesson plans and books about drones for kids
First off is my guide to drone-related STEM lesson plans for kids (and adults). Some of the recommendations are geared toward older kids, like the ready-to-build Raspberry Pi drone kit, but others, like the kits from SheMaps, are perfect for grade school.
If you’re seeking to buy an actual drone for your kids to get their hands on, I have a guide for that too in this breakdown of the best educational drones for STEM programs. Spoiler: by far the best educational drones for kids is the Tello drone a $99, kid-friendly drone that combines DJI flight technology and an Intel processor to create a budget camera drone that also can be used to teach newbies the basics of programming.
And finally, I urge you to check out these drone children’s books, as they’re great easy reading, especially for the age group you’re asking about. One is written by the aforementioned SheMaps, while another comes from Women and Drones, the group that puts in enormous efforts to promote and lift up women in the industry.
How to find local drone groups for kids
As far as local drone clubs and organizations, it depends on your area, but something may already exist. Drone soccer is popping up in more schools, where kids learn how to build and then actually fly small drones. Drone soccer is the only competitive student robotics program also recognized as an international sport by FAI. Many Girl Scout troops also incorporate drones into their programming. In 2021, Google-sister company Wing partnered with a Virginia Girl Scout troop to help deliver cookies via drone. Even before that, other Girl Scout troops have built their own cookie delivery drones.
Hopefully that provides plenty of options — while still giving some sort of direction — for where to go to get your kids involved in drones. And going back to that original statistic you brought up, there is hope. While women drone pilots are still a small minority at just 7.9% of overall pilots, that number has increased every single year since the data has been tracked. In 2016, just 3.9% of all drone pilots were women. Since 2016, the number of female drone pilots has increased by 30x, far higher than the overall 15x rate of increase for the broader drone industry.