Three Reasons Every Child Should Fly a Drone

Post by Warren Buckleitner, Ph.D., Editor, Children’s Technology Review

Last month in Mediatech (our library-based tech center), I did something rather insane.  I created a free, public indoor drone flying station. The idea was that anybody — young or old — could try to take off and land a toy drone on a large platform. From a safety and logistics point of view, the idea is nuts, but I’m pleased to report that over 30 children had their first drone flying experience, and after two days there were no injuries and no broken blades.

Why should every child 5 and older fly a drone?

  • It uses advanced fine motor skills and spatial problem solving skills. There are few real-world experiences that do such a great job.
  • Chances are, there will be future job involving controlling something with similar types of controls.
  • The chance of success and failure are authentic. Unlike a screen-based experience, crashes are real.

I recommend using an off-the-shelf toy-store variety drone, with its own RC remote control. If the child is under 6, be careful. Younger children tend to fly the drone into the ceiling. We used a $50 Sky Viper Stunt Drone from Skyrocket toys with soft plastic (safe) blades, with blade protectors. We could’ve used a second drone so that one could recharge while the other was in use, but that’s on our wish list for next year. Give children a flying lesson with the drone turned off (hold the drone, and as they manipulate the controls, you simulate what it will do. That saves batteries and decreases crashes. Use bed sheets or fabric curtains to create a safe flying zone, and recruit a “drone catcher” who knows how to pick up a drone and avoid the blades.  Make sure you have large, clearly marked take- off and landing targets that are no more than 10 feet from one another. If you create this type of setting, your chances of success are far greater.

Spring is a great time for a foot race, and for that reason, this month’s LittleClickers column is about getting outside, and doing some running.

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