The inaugural Drones 101 for Teachers workshop conducted at the Hedley Beare CTL on Thursday 26 October 2017 saw no less than 19 innovative educators in attendance (aka drone ‘early adopters’).
The TQI-accredited program comprised six (6) topic sessions culminating in a flying demonstration conducted on the oval at the rear of the CTL.
Sessions provided comprised the following:
- Session 1: The Basics (Definitions/History/Terminology/Glossary)
- Session 2: The Technical Stuff (Key components/Grades of drone/Radio guidance explained)
- Session 3: Flying Safely (Drone Dangers/CASA rules & Regulations/The ARN/Exam)
- Session 4: Drone in Schools (Building/Coding/Buying/Grants?The Dragonfly Project)
- Session 5: Resources (Books/Websites/Apps and Downloads)
- Session 6: Flying demonstration (Phantom 3 Standard)
Questions and queries from the floor regarding the safe and responsible use of drones in schools were constant throughout the day – the most common asking whether you can ‘legally’ fly a drone at an ACT school to which the answer is a resounding “yes”. However, as unpacked throughout the workshop, all drone flying must comply with CASA rules and regulations and considerate of the sub-2kg commercial RPAS category. We identified that “government land” is a furphy with the only thing actually preventing you from flying at school is whether you are within 5.5km of Canberra Airport. By that rule alone, schools such as Campbell High, Ainslie Primary, and Merici etc. CANNOT fly UAVs outdoors at their institution (visit the CASA website for more info).
Congratulations to the ‘winners’ of the quiz conducted at the end of Session 4 challenging participants to demonstrate their knowledge of the morning session. Lunch was polished off without complaint – however, I’m of the opinion that less cake and more fruit could have been consumed ;)… all in all, the food provided by Swirl Catering seemed to have been enjoyed overall.
Many thanks to all in attendance. Please go forth as proponents of safe and responsible RPAS flying. Here’s a final list of tips, tricks, and recommendations mindful of The Three “R’s” as a final cap off of topics discussed and debated on the day:
- Always consider ‘risk’ before flying (refer to the ACT ED Risk Matrix and document your drone flying intentions)
- Ask yourself “…is it reasonable?”
- Know and abide by the rules
- Have a TOP-DOWN drone policy at your school with all stakeholders informed that your school understands and complies with the rules and regs
- Apply for an Aviation Reference Number (ARN) for your school
- Have a drone ‘brains trust’ at your school as go-to people for policy purposes
- It’s up to you to confidently inform senior staff of the do’s and dont’s
- Communicate and collaborate to eliminate the myths, ‘red herrings’ and crisis management that can surround drone operations and policies
- Help to create, shape and foster a positive, informed and proactive understanding of RPAS within your school
- Refer to your apps for pre-flight info (i.e. Can I Fly There, Wind Compass, Aero Weather etc.)
- You may be near an HLS – refer to the Can I Fly There app
- Don’t fly OVER people
- Remember Murphy’s Law – don’t push your luck
- Operate drones with transmitters only rather than a tablet or phone exclusively (unless it’s Tynker for coding)
- Don’t let students bring or fly their personal drones at school
- Ensure any imagery posted online complies with the rules and regs (caption it as per “All drone operations complied with the CASA rules and regulations for the <2kg commercial RPAS category”)
- Use Drone Bootcamp as a conduit to provide correct information and to provide further instruction to teachers and students at your school