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Drone Discovery in Brooklyn and across the nation

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New York City schoolchildren fly foam gliders to mark 4-H National Youth Science Day at Public School 21 in Brooklyn.

New York City schoolchildren fly foam gliders to mark 4-H National Youth Science Day at Public School 21 in Brooklyn.

By Jon Craig for the Cornell Chronicle

A Brooklyn school gymnasium was transformed into a landing pad for drones on Oct. 7 as part of a Cornell-sponsored science discovery program.

Laughter, cheering and plenty of questions from more than 300 inner-city schoolchildren filled the air at Public School 21. Drone Discovery in New York City was a big hit, and part of a larger 4-H National Youth Science Day that involved an estimated 100,000 children across the country.

Lucinda Randolph-Benjamin, Cornell Cooperative Extension-New York City extension associate for family and 4-H youth development, kept busy rounding up and lining up students in various work stations. At one of the stations, they eagerly learned coding – to design virtual flight paths. Another gave them a chance to make gliders and hover aircraft while learning about vertical and horizontal flight maneuvers.

The most popular task of the day, however, was flying drones made of white foam and videotaping solo flights with mini-cameras.

Teachers, Cornell staff, collegiate 4-Hers and 4-H leaders and volunteers designed the drone challenge and later guided excited schoolchildren through the learning exercises.

“We get to constantly learn, too,” said Jackie Davis-Manigaulte ’72, a senior extension associate based in Manhattan.

Susan Hoskins, senior extension associate at Cornell’s Institute for Resource Information Sciences, said the children are also taught about how unmanned drones are used in many real-world applications beyond warfare, including collecting agricultural data on crops, plants and diseases; bird and other wildlife studies; in search-and-rescue operations; and inspecting underneath bridges and servicing out-of-reach utility lines.

“We continually learn from each other and together,” Hoskins said.

Davis-Manigaulte said teachers are given 4-H discovery packets so they can continue discussing and practicing what the students learned at P.S. 21 on Oct. 7.

“We want to make sure these youths get stimulated,” Hoskins said.

They’re encouraged to think differently from how they would in a traditional classroom setting, Davis-Manigaulte added, noting the exposure might get them thinking about studying different subjects or pursuing careers in research, science or aviation.

Drone Discovery and the accompanying engineering design challenges were developed by staff and faculty members in Cornell Cooperative Extension and the College of Human Ecology. In addition to solving real-world problems, students are taught about safety and regulations, remote sensing and flight control.

“We’re trying to connect these kids with bigger issues,” Hoskins said.
[end of Chronicle article]

maille 4-h

Alexa Maille with schoolchildren in Brooklyn on National Youth Science Day

NY State 4-H at Cornell was selected by National 4-H to design and lead this year's 4-H National Youth Science Day project. This spring, at the time of the announcement that NY 4-H would lead the competition, Alexa Maille, NY State 4-H STEM specialist in the BCTR, said, “4-H is a powerful vehicle for STEM education because it is based on what young people are interested in, allowing them to take an active role in their learning. Drone Discovery will provide youth an outlet to practice thinking like scientists and engineers, as well as engaged citizens, as they explore cutting-edge technology. This project will foster a sense of discovery in youth all around the country.”

 

A drone flies in Brooklyn; kids fascinated - Cornell Chronicle

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Cornell partners on 4-H National Youth Science Day

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by Ted Boscia from the Cornell Chronicle

youth with glider

Members of a 4-H career perspectives class on the Arts Quad with a glider.

When an expected 100,000 children and teens participate in the nation’s largest youth science event this fall, they’ll make hands-on discoveries using educational kits and guides developed by a Cornell team composed of campus and county partners.

On 4-H National Youth Science Day (4-H NYSD), Oct. 5, young people in cities and towns nationwide will undertake an interactive engineering design challenge created by Cornell Cooperative Extension (CCE) in partnership with National 4-H Council.

The program, Drone Discovery, explores the science behind unmanned flight and how remote sensing and drone technologies can be applied to address community needs, such as tracking the spread of an invasive plant species, monitoring a city’s solar energy grid or searching for lost people or pets.

Cornell plans to mark 4-H NYSD by hosting Drone Discovery events with New York City schoolchildren Oct. 5, followed by a campus event with Tompkins County youth Oct. 21.

Conducting experiments with adult facilitators, participants will use foam gliders and keychain cameras to design, build and test drone models, and code flight paths for real-world scenarios. Participants will learn everything from flight dynamics and aircraft types, to drone safety and regulations, to remote sensing and flight control, while piquing their interest in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) careers and concepts.

alexa maille

Alexa Maille

“4-H is a powerful vehicle for STEM education because it is based on what young people are interested in, allowing them to take an active role in their learning,” said project leader Alexa Maille, state 4-H STEM program specialist in the Bronfenbrenner Center for Translational Research (BCTR) in the College of Human Ecology. “Drone Discovery will provide youth an outlet to practice thinking like scientists and engineers, as well as engaged citizens, as they explore cutting-edge technology. This project will foster a sense of discovery in youth all around the country.”

National 4-H Council selected Cornell as the partner for 4-H NYSD this spring after a competition among land-grant institutions. Across New York’s 57 counties and New York City’s boroughs, approximately 190,000 youth annually participate in 4-H programs offered by schools, local clubs, camps and other locations – a youth development network underpinned by Cornell expertise. Administered by the BCTR, New York state 4-H acts as the youth component of CCE, focusing on helping young people to grow in the areas of STEM, healthy lifestyles and citizenship.

Andy Turner, New York state 4-H leader, credited Cornell’s work on 4-H NYSD to an “active and creative STEM team already doing innovative work.”

In addition to Turner and Maille, Cornell’s core 4-H NYSD planning group includes Susan Hoskins, a senior extension associate in soil and crop sciences, along with youth development leaders at CCE-New York City and CCE-Broome County.

“The project will demonstrate Cornell’s strengths in STEM in the 4-H program, and fits beautifully with the goal of reaching 10 million youth via 4-H across the nation by 2025, up from the current reach of 6 million,” Turner added. “Hands-on, STEM-oriented projects like this have the potential to help thousands of youth think about science in a different way, perhaps helping many of them to start on a pathway that can lead to a promising career.”

Hoskins, an expert in geographic information system mapping and remote sensing who has used these technologies for agricultural research, has a long history teaching geospatial science to 4-H youth. As drones and other unmanned aerial vehicles become commonplace, she imagines broad possibilities for children and teens to discover the science and applications of drones and consider the ramifications for society.

“Drone Discovery offers a great opportunity for youth engagement by introducing them to emerging fields and inspiring them toward academic and career paths that will arise from these new technologies,” Hoskins said. “All of the lessons are grounded in the real world, too, so the program encourages active citizenship as our society prepares to take on rapidly evolving questions about drone regulations and policies.”

Hoskins will pilot the Drone Discovery curriculum with youth on campus June 28-30 for 4-H Career Explorations, an annual event expected to draw 380 youth from around the state to explore STEM fields.

 

Cornell partners on 4-H National Youth Science Day - Cornell Chronicle

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