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STEM class

#1
Hello everyone. My name is Dwight and I'm a high school Chemistry, Physics, and STEM teacher in Ashland, OH. Next year, I am hoping to take my STEM class in a different direction, using RC planes/multirotors as the primary subject.

Though my brother and I flew RC balsa wood/gas engine planes over 20 years ago, I consider myself a newbie because of all of the new technology now available. I have much learning to do. :)

Right now, I have nothing. I'm expecting 12-15 high school students next year in my STEM class. I need lots of help and suggestions! Can anyone recommend transmitter types, servos, kits, etc. to get the process started. Unfortunately, I don't expect much (or any) financial support from my school, so I'll probably have to pay for things from my own pocket. So if there are any good deals, I'd like to know of them.

Sincerely,
Dwight Souder
Crestview HS
Ashland, OH
 

earthsciteach

Moderator
Moderator
#2
Welcome to the forums, Dwight! I am also a Physics teacher and would LOVE to be in a school with a STEM focus.

Flite Test is developing curriculum for classes such as yours. However, I do not know how far out that release is. I recommend contacting Lee Kachner, who is director of Flite Test Connections (lee@flitetest.com I think). Another great resource may be Jake at MESAfoamfighters.com. He is working with FT on curriculum development and has an amazing program.


Paying out of your own pocket is quite admirable, but possibly a huge expense. If you have not already done so, snoop around and apply for some STEM classroom grants. Good news is, compared to 20 years ago, the hobby is far more affordable and accessible.

Best of luck! I'd love to offer a similar class at my high school! I need to extract myself from some other responsibilities for that to happen. That is not proving to be easy!
 

makattack

Pollen is coming
Moderator
Mentor
#3
Great advice from earthsciteach, and good on you all. I would add that you might want to reach out to local rc clubs. My club in particular enjoys helping out at schools. Be it public schools to universities. We regularly help out when people reach out to us. We also happily fill out cori/sori releases before working with classes To fit district requirements and help ensure comfort among the administration and families.

Our club also has an advocacy budget item to help fund such programs. I would be surprised if others near you didn't have the same.
 
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earthsciteach

Moderator
Moderator
#4
What are the kids learning in your class? That may be helpful to know in terms of kit choices.

Dollar tree foam board is a wonderful material to use due to its low cost and ease of cutting and assembling. Most likely, you will be ordering 9 gram servos, which are inexpensive, as well. Some vendors, Flite Test included, offer electronics packages that include everything you need except for transmitter and receiver.

Personally, I would go with a few Hobbyking Turnigy 9xr radios with FrSky modules. But, that's just me. Maybe a Taranis for you and some Turnigy 6 channel radios for the kids. I can't image they would need to go beyond 6 channels in most cases.
 

earthsciteach

Moderator
Moderator
#6
Science, Technology, Engineering and Math. Its a philosophy that teaches those subjects in conjunction. The goal is to turn out more "engineering" literate youths. The schools that do it best have a completely integrated program.

Unfortunately, from what I've seen, "shop" is still looked down upon by those in education. Tech ed is very much misunderstood and undervalued. While those in public education beat the drum about higher order thinking skills, the development of those skills are based around reading from text. There is little knowledge of the importance of what it means to conceptualize an idea and to have the skills to design and build it. Stepping off my soapbox now...
 
#7
I'm in the process of doing the exact same thing.
I need to come up with a lesson plan for the local stem academy.
My idea is to use the simple soarer to explain basic aerodynamic theory as well as the skills of RC modelling.
That glider is very inexpensive and will try to buy as many as budget allows. Perhaps the kids will have to build one in teams.
We planning on using inexpensive radios like the spectrum dx5e and the inexpensive serves and receivers that can be bought at HK or lhs
I'm not planning in spending no more than 70/airplane (no counting the TX)
 

makattack

Pollen is coming
Moderator
Mentor
#8
I believe the Tiny Trainer is targeted for this educational audience, as it allows for a gradual learning curve with enough breadth to cover both introductory and advanced skills.

As I see it, if you start with building a free-flight/chuck glider model, then advance to adding 2 channel controls, and finally add a motor for three channel powered flight, it seems like a great progression... Then there's the flexibility for people to discover on their own and add more custom features.
 
#9
Check out FlySky radios. They have 20 model programming for under $60 (Hobbypartz.com). You can get 3 channel receivers from Hobby King for about $5 and 6 channel for about $10. Most other supplies are very reasonable at Hobby King.
 
#10
You can get bargains on eBay. I got about 20 9g servos for $1.25 average by bidding everything that came up at $1.55 for about two weeks. I also got a bunch of motors at about half price. Look for items starting at $.99 or under with free shipping.
 
#11
Agree

I couldn't agree more, with your statements. Has Lee and the FT team made any advances in the STEM program? I'm guessing not, and not until August sometime due to Flite Fest 2015.
 
#12
Science, Technology, Engineering and Math. Its a philosophy that teaches those subjects in conjunction. The goal is to turn out more "engineering" literate youths. The schools that do it best have a completely integrated program.

Unfortunately, from what I've seen, "shop" is still looked down upon by those in education. Tech ed is very much misunderstood and undervalued. While those in public education beat the drum about higher order thinking skills, the development of those skills are based around reading from text. There is little knowledge of the importance of what it means to conceptualize an idea and to have the skills to design and build it. Stepping off my soapbox now...
All true, as sad as it is.

Just like the OP, many of us educators trying to give our students some meaningful learning opportunities are left to do our own professional development and pay for everything ourselves. Sometimes getting up on the soapbox is exactly what is needed - every once in a while it gets you noticed and people will support your efforts. It's not a solution to the huge systemic flaws in education, but it can play an important role in getting us on track.

What we really need is a change in attitude, and it has long been my hope that as more students are exposed to highly engaging, inspiring, and valuable STEM activities, the more they and their parents will start putting pressure on administrators to make much-needed changes. Just like politicians, many administrators don't care so much about doing the right thing as they care about their own personal gain, and therefore respond better to public flaming than anything else.


I believe the Tiny Trainer is targeted for this educational audience, as it allows for a gradual learning curve with enough breadth to cover both introductory and advanced skills.

As I see it, if you start with building a free-flight/chuck glider model, then advance to adding 2 channel controls, and finally add a motor for three channel powered flight, it seems like a great progression... Then there's the flexibility for people to discover on their own and add more custom features.
I believe this is some good advice if you want your students to have kits. Depending on the ages and ability levels of your students, some Tiny Trainers may be a better choice than scratchbuilding.

As far as radios go, the military purchased a dozen ExceedRc Tx/Rx units for the STEM program I run. They are cheap enough so that you don't have to stress out about them, and they still manage to get the job done. They're also programmable, which opens up some additional learning opportunities.
 
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#13
What are the kids learning in your class? That may be helpful to know in terms of kit choices.

Dollar tree foam board is a wonderful material to use due to its low cost and ease of cutting and assembling. Most likely, you will be ordering 9 gram servos, which are inexpensive, as well. Some vendors, Flite Test included, offer electronics packages that include everything you need except for transmitter and receiver.

Personally, I would go with a few Hobbyking Turnigy 9xr radios with FrSky modules. But, that's just me. Maybe a Taranis for you and some Turnigy 6 channel radios for the kids. I can't image they would need to go beyond 6 channels in most cases.

Dont mean to get off subject, but Im learning as well , and you mention getting FrSky Modules for the Turnigy Radio. What is this used for? is this what you use to get like a speed sensor ?? or to allow DSMx from the turnigy radio?
 

earthsciteach

Moderator
Moderator
#14
The FrSky system is very nice. It does have telemetry, but you need a display to view it. No big deal, FrSky displays are pretty inexpensive. Basically, I just a huge fan of FrSky. They provide a better link than the stock Turnigy system.
 
#15
I believe the Tiny Trainer is targeted for this educational audience, as it allows for a gradual learning curve with enough breadth to cover both introductory and advanced skills.

As I see it, if you start with building a free-flight/chuck glider model, then advance to adding 2 channel controls, and finally add a motor for three channel powered flight, it seems like a great progression... Then there's the flexibility for people to discover on their own and add more custom features.
:) Great
This is exactly what I had in mind and are starting up now at my school.
I might most my findings here.

So far, my students are taping their FT Tiny Trainer-tiled plans. The foamboard -non-dollarstore- is ready :)
 

WAC@NC

Design/Build Addiction
#16
Gentlemen, My son has gained the approval and sponsorship of his PLTW and STEM teacher to lead a program at his high school. I will tirelessly support him as well. FT has released everything except the high school format for FT-STEM. We need direction. Can those of you that have experience in a successful program please help us out with your experiences. We have to be rock solid from the gate. In a nice way of saying it, our area has very little successful nontraditional influence. My son wants this to be his Eagle Scout Project, complete with flying field. Even though he has full support from his teacher and has already accomplished leading a FT STEM program in middle school, is a paid staff member with the STEM program (which includes "Aviation") at one of the largest Boy Scout Camps in the east, the response I received from the scoutmaster was, "It will be hard to do cause of all the dangers involved with those drones. But we need a volleyball court at the YMCA." This is the biggest reason why my son wants to make this happen. So that other kids can have an opportunity that was not available to him because of uninformed adults. Sorry. I can tell you that from a parents perspective, the STEM program at its core is the most incredible tool for problem solving successes offered in our school system. My son is 15yrs old. He was an average Joe until he was asked to lead the STEM class 2yrs ago, building planes by the FT method. Now he is a highly motivated engineering "loon" who is limited only by his resources. The soapbox is available as I am stepping down. So I'm up for guidance from you teachers who have already worked through the kinks. I will be talking with our local flying club as well. And most of all...Thank you to those of you who mentor in any capacity! "it takes a village ....to raise a child.", or as my children would most likely say "it takes a miracle to teach children to raise their parents" : )
 
#17
Sir,
I may be of some help as I am engineering teacher in Charlotte. I started our engineering/STEM program in 1989. Today, we are a FabLab. Would your son and his school be interested in competing with my school in r/c competition using both fixed wing and quads? Does anyone want to compete else on the forum want to compete?

BTW, Soon I will post a free airplane design competition where past winning teams have actually gotten the chance to build an actual full-scale airplane. This contest is sponsored by GAMA (General Aviation Manufacturers Association) and BuildAplane.

Tom Dubick
Charlotte Latin School

Tom
 

WAC@NC

Design/Build Addiction
#19
Tom,

Thank you for the offer. as we move forward, I will keep you posted. We were very fortunate to have attended the fx3expo. It was a huge motivator for my son to see that ALL of the leaders in the hobby are focused on validating the educational opportunities. He was embraced by everyone we met. True to character, the flitetest family shared their time with him, again encouraging him to keep pushing forward with the stem program. So, at this point my son has the attention of his principle, PLTW/STEM teacher at his high school and his former middle school. Since this is his project, it is hard to sit by and patiently hope that the right people get on board. Again, a big thank you to you and everyone who spends time pushing something positive towards our youth. I know there are moments of frustration, but your efforts change lives.

BR,
Warren Conzone
 

Hoofty

Junior Member
#20
New to STEM Curriculum

Hi guys, I'm brand new to the FT family. I just started the STEM curriculum as a supplemental science course for my children who are homeschooling. I'm excited to teach them what I know, and learn along with them. I am familiar with aircraft (Ret. USAF structural mechanic) and I used to fly R/C (15 years ago), but I've never flown electrics. Back then I was building and flying balsa gassers. I love the idea of these foam board planes and can't wait to get to the build phase of the curriculum.
Depending on how well this goes, I'm considering offering it as a community education class to other homeschooling families in the area. Just wondering if anyone else has used the curriculum in this way and/or has any info or advice to offer.