Flight school: Riverside Christian students learn about unmanned aircraft
The loud hum of drones filled the gym at Riverside Christian School in East Grand Forks Friday afternoon, and fascinated students watched them hover and spin around the room. They lit up with excitement looking through goggles linked to cameras on the drones and laughed when one crashed to the floor.
The activity was part of a special five-week curriculum with UND's Aviation Education Student Outreach Program (AESOP) for Riverside Christian's fifth- to eighth-graders. In addition to unmanned aircraft, the students have also learned about aerodynamics, flight planning, helicopters and hoverboards. The curriculum will culminate with the students doing flight simulations at UND.
"Aviation is great because it's easy to be excited about," said Abby Jarve, AESOP's president and a junior at UND. "I don't think kids realize that being a pilot or flying a UAS or RC helicopter is an option as a career until someone brings it up to you."
For Friday's demonstration, Jarve enlisted the help of UND's student club for unmanned and remote-controlled aircraft.
"Seeing the excitement out of the kids, honestly," said sophomore Jordan Krueger of his favorite part of the afternoon. "You don't see this much excitement out of college students."
Kai Turner, a fifth-grader at Riverside Christian, said he believes the most enjoyable part of having a drone would be using it to play practical jokes on people.
"I would use it for a lot of things," he said. "But I bet the funniest one would be pranks on people, (like flying) it over with a water balloon."
Valerie Fulcher, who sits on Riverside Christian's School Board, said she had the idea for AESOP to develop the five-week program for the school after meeting Jarve, and she hopes AESOP can put together an after-school aerodynamics program for students in the Grand Forks area.
"It's really interesting to see their excitement of looking into a career that they probably would have never seen in other aspects," Fulcher said.
Jarve and the club members said Friday's demonstration is the kind of student outreach they hope to do more of.
"This is an absolute blast," Krueger said. "We want to get kids into it."