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4-H National Youth Science Day: Drone Discovery

By Staff | Oct 7, 2016

Joshua Arnold, Katie Arnold, and Oscar Stagnaro adjusting the camera for another test flight.

The Pierce County 4-H youth participated in the 9th annual 4-H National Youth Science Day on Tuesday, October 4, as part of National 4-H Week.

This year’s experiment was called Drone Discovery, a hands-on engineering design challenge that explores the science behind drones and how they are being used to solve real world problems. Extension Agent Yolanda Schmidt led 4-H members in various activities introducing flight dynamics and drone technology. 4-Hers learned drone terminology and technology through experimentation, a YouTube video and pictures.

The formula that was followed was a three-step process: define the problem, design a solution, and optimize the design solution.

There were a total of four experiments that were completed. The first activity included a propcopter, in which 4-Hers propelled using a back and forth rubbing motion with their hands.

“The propcopter just has a propeller, so there is a lot of thrust,” Schmidt explained to the group.

The next activity involved making a foam glider out of a paper plate. The experiment asked 4-Hers to find the best flight pattern by adjusting certain flaps on the glider and trying different throwing speeds.

The group then elevated to a foam drone, a large plane-like structure that had a camera called a keychain sensor attached to it. The 4-Hers flew the drones outside, capturing video with the cameras of their flight patterns. They then were able to view the videos and discuss how they can change their flight to capture better, clearer video.

“They have the most fun just throwing [the plane] around,” Schmidt said. “It’s important to let them play, too.”

The final activity of the day was an experiment on code copters. The kids developed a coding system that was used to instruct their drones their parents where to go and how to move on a mimic cornfield that was taped to the floor. The idea was to use the “drones” to find invasive weeds that were crowding the corn plants.

The group learned about the x- and y-axis, degrees of an angle and coding terminology during this experiment.

“I think [the experiment] went good,” Schmidt said. “I figured that they would enjoy the foam drones and the more hands-on stuff.”

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