teaching drones with middle school

Teaching Students About Drones

Teaching students about drones can be done even if you do not have an actual aircraft to fly. Many school districts are providing drones for teachers to use as an educational tool. But what if you are not that fortunate? Or what if your students need activities to do while they await their designated flight time? You might consider teaching the drone activities in TechnoBot AI.

Flying Machines at School: A Design Thinking Activity

TechnoBot AI is a technology project that has students develop creative solutions using a design thinking model. One of the activities is to simplify a daily task for the teacher using drone technology. For example, the flying machine might collect assignments or distribute supplies. Students use Scratch to build a prototype that simulates how the concept will work in real-life. Afterwards, they reflect upon the strengths and limitations of their prototype. Included in the TechnoBot AI project are a search rescue task, as well as videos that showcase the practical applications of drones.


While creating this project, we found some excellent drone videos that are suitable for middle school students. Below you will find a set of short YouTube videos that explain drone applications, how they work, why they are better than humans at some tasks, and even prompt critical thinking about the possiblities of drones.


About Drones

What Is a Drone?

A drone is a small flying machine that follows a person’s commands or software instructions to move.

Why Do People Use Drones?

Drones can be used for fun, but they can also help people work. They can be autonomous and direct their own actions, flying with no direct control from humans. Artificial intelligence helps the device to see, hear, touch, and even think. AI hardware and software allows drones to:

  • scan an area to pick a route
  • identify objects
  • track movement
  • detect obstacles
  • avoid collisions
  • adjust its path

What Can Drones Do?

teaching students about drones

Videos for Teaching Students About Drones

The following links can help your students build their knowledge about drone technology. In addition, the videos can spark student reflection and class discussion about the technology’s strengths and weaknesses.

Drones Getting Smarter with AI | Intel (1:32)

Shows how AI and computer vision tech makes drones easier to fly, safer, and more capable by using autonomous vision, collision avoidance, user recognition, and more.

Build the Future with Us at Prime Air | Amazon (2:01)

Explains how Prime Air wants to hire experts such as engineers, innovators, and software programmers to create a future that doesn’t yet exist.

Tree-Planting Drones | WWF-Australia (2:20)

Shows different tasks a tree-planting drone can do such as delivering seed pods, planting seeds, monitoring plantings, and identifying species that are successful.

PwC Combines Drones and AI to Help Clients with Complex Infrastructure Projects (2:22)

Demonstrate many ways that AI is used to manage sites, such as identifying people, monitoring sites, and finding problems.

Search and Rescue Drones That Create Their Own Networks | Harvard Magazine (0:53)

Engineering students create prototypes to test search and rescue ideas in the real world.

How Drones Are Used in All Your Favorite Movies | Time (3:15)

Shows drones without AI as they capture action scenes in movies. Students can consider how recent AI tech advances using self-flying drones could help filmmakers.

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