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RC in Schools? Share how you introduced a club or program into your school.

FlyingMonkey

Stuck in Sunny FL
Staff member
Admin
#1
I know Flite Test is working to help create school projects through their Flite Test Connections program. But I'm curious about people out there that have already done it, how did you do it, and what would you suggest to other people who are interested in doing this?

Are you a teacher and you've created a class that works with RC aircraft?

Are you a teacher and you've created a school based RC club?

Are you a student who helped start a school based RC club?

How did you start?

What obstacles did you have to overcome, and how?

How did you address the issues of costs?

What questions should I be asking, but I haven't?

I'd like to edit this thread to make a resource that people can return to in order to help them bring RC to schools. This thread is not intended as an alternate to the FT Connections program, but might be useful to help get it introduced into schools.
 

FlyingMonkey

Stuck in Sunny FL
Staff member
Admin
#3
A local high school has an extension program through Embry Riddle specifically for drones. I went up and spoke for the class one day. Since then I've had a few requests to come speak at other schools about the hobby. I'm sure the question about how to develop an in school program will come up, so I'm looking for any advice I can get. And of course, I'd like to see the FT Connections program do well.
 
#4
Yeah, I am kind of unfortunate to live in an area (Vermont) where RC as a whole is largely unknown, clubs are slim, I have personally only met about ten other people who fly RC of any type.

I really want to try to do my part to change this, and when I found Flite Test and started seeing what they were doing for the hobby, especially the inexpensive and easy build methods, I really felt that it was the way to get this hobby into the minds of our younger generations, and, of course, make more memories.

Then I saw what MESA RCFF was up to, and realized how much I would love to do the same thing around here.
 
#5
I started a club at my school (Newton North High School in Newton, MA) in October 2013 as a junior. I basically went up to a random teacher and said "sign here" and then we were official, so we've never had much in the way of an adult leadership.

To build interest, I made of a point of flying very conspicuously on the school athletic fields during lunch time and right after school. When people asked about it, we would chat and sometimes buddy-box.

I've been hosting build meetings at my house once a week. We start new members a show and tell type thing from experience pilots explaining basic aerodynamics and RC electronics. Then the new club member will either build an FT Flyer or a Fish over a couple of weeks while their parts ship from the HK international warehouse. If the weather is really nice, we end the build meetings early to go out to fly, but generally we just play it by ear based on favorable wind conditions and field availability. During the winter, I've been able to reserve space in the school gym in the evenings.

Facebook groups have been ESSENTIAL in organizing all of this. It's also really good because club members post about their projects and experiences, and it inspires other people to build and fly.

Yeah, I am kind of unfortunate to live in an area (Vermont) where RC as a whole is largely unknown, clubs are slim, I have personally only met about ten other people who fly RC of any type.
AlternativeRC, before I started flying I'd never seen anyone fly an RC plane in person. I've still never found a pilot where I live who started before I did. BUT, once I started flying, I've noticed a huge growth in the number of RC people. It's now pretty common to see people flying FT planes or little RTF models at the high school when the weather is nice. The Newton North High School Aviation Club has really sparked an interest in the community. There's now a group of middle schoolers who will join us when we go out and fly (they're not invited to the build meetings until they're in high school tho).

Also, I've made contact with the closest AMA chartered club and they've invited our high school club to come out and fly with them for free this spring! They said they'll have some gas trainers, which I'm super pumped to try cuz I've only ever flown electric.
 

haygood

Junior Member
#6
I'm jumping in with both feet. I am starting a club at our local private junior high. I started by talking to the principal, and from there went to the high school to get a few volunteers to lead the program with me. I've got four high school student assistants; one of which has some RC experience. Hid dad will help some, too. We are waiting until football season is over to start the JH kids, but I'm getting a parent meeting scheduled, hopefully, for next week. My goal is to brief the HS kids and get them to build Mini Speedsters from scratch. Then, they will help the JH kids build when that club starts.

My plan (we all know how plans go) is to meet for 1.5hours each week. I'll do 30 minutes of teaching, then split into groups (if we have enough students to make more than one group!), to work on electricity/magnetism/motors related experiments, flight simulators, and building. We have a gym to start in, and we'll get two planes with wireless buddy boxes in them and lightweight batteries. From there we will go as far as it takes us!

It's a plan, anyway. My 7th grade son and some of his friends are pretty excited about it.

I've got a spreadsheet listing every piece of equipment we will buy, spare parts, simulator adapters, etc. If anybody needs that you are welcome to it. It lists vendors with links, prices, estimated shipping, and so on. The first group will have to foot the bill for some durable goods, unfortunately, so it will cost between 250 to 175 per kid, depending on enrollment. Subsequent years it will all be cheaper. Group costs include the buddy box systems, 2 simulators, spare parts, and two complete airplane kits. By "kit" I mean everything, from control horns to radio transmitter.

It all looks good on paper! I'm a drone pilot and a fullscale pilot, with only an Airhog (2-channel foamie) for RC fixed wing experience. With that in mind I have reached out to the local RC community for good pilots who can get the kids started for their first few flights.

The school has been very responsive and interested. They are basically providing access to facilities and announcements. We have a football field with track next to two baseball fields to fly in, and the City has a flying park I haven't seen yet. Interestingly, AMA membership is required at the City park unless you are flying electrics under two pounds, which gives us plenty of headroom (Mini Speedsters should come in at a couple of ounces). No go for my 6 pound drone!


All input and advice is welcome!! I have no idea what I'm doing!!!
 
#7
I've actually been thinking of starting a small flight club a my high school I've talked to the head and he didn't seemed too apposed to the idea, however, things may have changed
 
#8
I am thinking of starting an rc flying club at my high school too. All I need to do is find a teacher to supervise and a couple of kids to get interested. I have encountered a few problems like money. I'm thinking I could buy foam board and the kids could buy their electronics or planes. My main problem is how do I get people interested?
 
#9
Anything new in Vermont

I am up in Burlington VT and was wondering if you have found anything new in the state related to Flitetest? I am thinking about joining the STEM program for just working with my son who has just start to show interest in STEM. He is a 11th grader
 

Fluburtur

Cardboard Boy
#10
The other day I visited my old school because im still friend with like half the teachers there and I had my quad with me, my teacher was quite interested in that and he has the mechanics workshop class if that makes sense. When I was in school there we used to play music (my main regret, I loved it) but I think it slowed down a bit.
I could ask him if he's interested in a rc club maybe, I guess the industrial drawing teacher could be interested too. Dudes from different classes could work together to design all aspects of an aircraft, build it then promptly crash it because they have no experience of flight!
 

Bricks

Well-known member
#11
I have been throwing this idea around a while for our local high school. Cheaper the better and at this moment Planes by far are the cheapest to get into the air. Transmitter is the most expensive part so far I would like to stay with Spektrum as receivers and the rest can be bought so cheaply. Motors ESC`s can be found cheaply batteries are the next most expensive part to purchase. I have thought about one transmitter for now and binding all models to it to cut costs.
 
#12
The Spektrum stuff seems to be the obvious choice if you read the forum, but Flysky is dirt cheap. As many people "upgrade" to Spektrum or FrSky a lot of FS-i6 radios become available (they are shipped with a lot of RTF quads), and if you have a school program you can get them as donations much of the time. For 3 channel planes like the Arrow we have had good results with the GR3 receiver that is only $6. So, for about $20 in electronics (battery extra), and a couple of dollars in foam board you have a plane to fly.

If your school has an activity booster club they might help with getting the word out for you, and help secure donations. If the school maintains a "wish list" it is surprising what comes out of the woodwork. Be specific with anything you are requesting since you are less likely to get donations for generic requests like "rc transmitter."

Also, if you haven't looked into the AMA MASC program it is worth the time. They are very helpful with getting the program off the ground, and provide the infrastructure to legitimize your activities with the admin and district. I'm pretty sure that without the AMA charter our club wouldn't be allowed to fly at school. It is free, and includes a free AMA membership for the club sponsor.


Note:
The GR3 receiver doesn't have nearly the range of the $12 IA6b, but for small planes flying line of sight we haven't had problems due to range. Also, our school is practically next to an airport, and the airport manager has asked us to keep a 200' ceiling that helps keep planes in range.
 
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