Xcel Energy, an industry leader in using drone technology, is spreading that leadership to Adams County students, thanks to a $2,500 grant. The grant, in partnership with the Five Star Education Foundation, will allow students at STEM Lab School to design, build and fly the unmanned machines.
As a K-8 School serving 450 students in Northglenn, Thornton and across Adams 12 Five Star Schools, STEM Lab provides hands-on, experiential learning that prepares students for 21st century careers.
The grant will be used to purchase drone models that support different learning outcomes: Hubsan Brushless Quadcopters to gather data and teach flight planning, and Flybrix sets that teach the iterative design process, as students rebuild and reconfigure components to solve problems.
The drone curriculum, supported by a $2,500 sponsorship from Xcel Energy – Colorado, will be used in engineering classes and problem-based learning units, according to Tracey Calderon, STEM coordinator for the Lab School. Students in collaborative groups will use the drones to collect and analyze data. They will learn how to approach engineering problems and work through constraints.
“Drones will give students an opportunity to collect data beyond what has been previously possible,” Calderon said. “Students will also have the engineering opportunity to modify drones to fit their purpose.” The project is career-relevant because Xcel Energy leads the utility industry in its deployment of drones, more formally known as unmanned aerial systems. Drones are used to inspect transmission lines, inventory substation equipment and capture other visual data in a safe and efficient way.
The Five Star Education Foundation works closely with Adams 12 Five Star Schools and strong partners in the community, such as Xcel Energy, to support opportunities that inclusively prepare students for a variety of options after high school, ranging from post-secondary education to directly entering the workforce.
“The ultimate goal of the Foundation is to empower students with the confidence and skills to be successful after high school,” said Mary Litwiler, executive director of the foundation.
As part of these investments, the Xcel Energy Foundation’s Focus Area Grants for Education support programs that provide K-12 students with hands-on learning opportunities that demonstrate the linkages between math and science, real-world applications and future careers in STEM fields. Environmental education experiences that foster an ethic of stewardship and conservation are another focus.