Can drones provide the framework for an effective STEM Education Program?

We explore this question in this episode of the Drone Radio Show with Anne Lopez, a teacher at Eastside Middle School in Mt. Washington, Kentucky.  Anne teaches STEM education, and in 2015, she introduced a class to middle schoolers on the history, use and operation of drones.  The curriculum quickly gained praise from the drone industry and from education professionals for its innovative approach and hands-on learning.  Anne talks about the curriculum, the lessons learned and the place that drones play in STEM education. If you’re a STEM educator, then you’re especially going to enjoy this interview.

Show Outline

  • [01:23]  Meet Anne Lopez, STEM Education Teacher at Eastside Middle School in Mt. Washington, Kentucky.  The school has about 650 students.
  • [02:05] Education Challenges – The greatest challenges teaching middle schoolers are gaining their interest and holding their attention.
  • [02:27] The Inspiration – Anne discusses the inspiration behind the drone STEM Education Class.
  • [03:25] School Leadership Support – Support from the School Board and School District was very high and contributed to the success of the curriculum.
  • [04:37] Class Structure – The curriculum was structured for three classes – an all-girls class, and all-boys class and a mixed boys/girls class.
  • [05:56] Learning Objectives – During the 9-week class, students will learn the history of drones, how build and fly a drone and how to work in teams.
  • [08:07] Learning Curve – Anne discusses what she needed to learn to structure the class.
  • [08:57] She Drones Support – The She Drones, a non-profit organization, led by Leslie Bates, provided technical support and drones for the class.
  • [09:54] Student Response – Anne describes the positive response and results of the students in taking the Drone STEM Education Course.  Students were excited, engaged and many continued pursuing their interests in drones after the class.
  • [13:52] Community Recognition and Response – The program has generated positive press on drones and positive comments from parents.
  • [14:20] Uniqueness of the Program – While there are a few school districts exploring drones, none are as extensive in STEM principles as the Eastside Middle School program.
  • [15:12] Personal Rewards – For Anne, the most rewarding aspects of the program have been seeing students work together and solve the problems.
  • [16:05] Student Takeaways – Anne hopes students (1) break the stigma that math and science are boring, (2) demonstrate that math and science courses are exciting and rigorous and (3) are introduced to a career path that is booming.
  • [16:41] Long Term Goal – To empower students to pursue a career in math and science; notably, that drones have a tremendous “cool factor”, but they require a knowledge and grasp of fundamental math and science principles.


students assemble a drone

Drone assembly requires cooperation and coordination between team members.

Students present to Board

Students present their drones and what they learned to the Board of Education.