Thursday, June 30, 2016

Drones and Math

Drone, Airdrone, Rotorcraft, Unmanned  I own a mini drone complete with camera.  I bought it for myself but it made me wonder if there is a way to use it in my classroom next year.  I would like to try to create a unit with the science teacher that integrates drones into both classes.

Right now, drones are becoming more and more useful in the business world.  They are not just toys.  I heard of one company who is working on using drones to deliver small things to remote areas.  For instance, using a drone to deliver medicine to a place cut off due to avalanches, etc.

There are also companies who use drones to map areas looking for damage to roads, etc.  Of course we all know the military uses them but more and more companies in the civilian sector so how can I as a math teacher use one in class to teach math?

The most obvious use is through the Rate x Time = Distance formula.  Well some middle school students in Elon NC are using drones in math class to calculate velocity using the Pythagorean theorem and the RTD formula.  According to the article, this activity grabbed student attention and it is opening their eyes to STEM.

The Academy of Aerospace and Engineering has a lovely discussion on using drones for STEM lessons.  In it, they discuss using math to find the wavelength of the drone's transmitter frequency because they know this particular drone broadcasts at 2.4 ghz.  This is one activity I had not thought of.  Cool.

According to Edudemic, you need a basic knowledge of trigonometry to design and operate drones.  There is also math involved in the electronics portion when building the drone.  What about using the coordinate system for the drone when it surveys land.  It has several other suggestions for uses but those are not as math oriented as the others.

It took a lot of digging but I finally found a pdf that focuses specifically on teaching math using drones.  Its only a 7 page file but it is geared for math classes with no adjustment.  The first part asks questions based on the information given so you can determine the flight plan.  The questions look at a variety of situations such as flying in calm weather, with cross winds, head or tail winds, calculating angles of correction and diagramming it all.  its a very well done activity and has everything I want.

Now I'm off to think about more ways I can use drones in Math.