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CCA offers summer drone course for students

A girl holding her drone and smiling.

CCA teacher Chris Bennett created a two-week drone course for students to learn how to safely fly drones.

A new summer course at CCA offers a very unique opportunity for students – flying drones.

CCA teacher Chris Bennett created a two-week course which started July 9 for students in grades 6 through 8. Students will watch instructional videos on techniques for flying a drone and will learn about Federal Aviation Administration regulations, drone safety measures and the careers that include drone use. The course also will touch upon STEM topics. Students will learn how to make a windsock to check whether wind speeds are too high to fly.

CCA sent students a drone of their own to use for the length of the course. The drones are user-friendly for beginners and each one contains a camera for taking videos and still shots. This feature allows students to show they have completed the assigned work.

“I always thought drones were cool and always wanted to fly one,” said Ashley Heller of Duncannon, a CCA student. “The drone showed up last week and I was excited because I didn’t know. We thought we needed to order our own. It was kind of cool to get my own drone and I wanted to fly it right away.”

The students’ drones will weigh less than 0.55 pounds, which puts them in compliance with Pennsylvania’s drone regulations. They will not need to be registered nationally with the FFA.

Students will be instructed not to surpass the 400-foot threshold when flying and will need to demonstrate their knowledge of drone safety and FAA regulations before they are allowed to fly.

“I didn’t realize when I started CCA that these clubs bring out what do they want to do with their life,” said Melody Heller, Ashley’s mom. “Also, giving students confidence that the teachers are giving them fun things to try. They are actually giving them more hands-on opportunities.”

There currently are 43 students from across the state enrolled in the drones course, which has far surpassed CCA’s initial 20-student cap. The students were asked to wait to open their drone boxes until the first lesson when they will open them together via live virtual lesson and learn safety tips and how to get started.

This course will give students a baseline knowledge of drones and better prepare those interested in passing the Part 107 Test to get their FAA Drone Pilot License. Bennett’s hope is that the program will eventually be incorporated into CCA’s curriculum as a semester-long course.

“We will have lessons and activities in the lessons,” Ashley said. “My teacher will put videos in the lessons and we get to watch it and interact and do things with the drones, like have scavenger hunts.”

By the end of the course, students will be able to design and name their own drone. They will also be asked to pick a practical application for which their drone can be used to help their parents around the house – such as using the drone to check if the gutters need cleaned. They will then be asked to demonstrate this task for a final project grade.

Melody said she’s been impressed with the new and innovative ways that CCA teachers try to connect with students.

“They’re always finding a way to reach students,” Melody said. “They want each student to feel like they’re treasured and an important part of the school. I find that encouraging as she’s going into her middle school and high school years. I want to stay with a school that cares about my student like that.”


Commonwealth Charter Academy


July 18th, 2018


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