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On March 5th and 6th, 2020, student teams from across Idaho once again came together for the Idaho Technology Student Association (ITSA) sponsored drone competition at the annual Student Leadership Conference in Twin Falls, Idaho. This is the third year the ITSA competition has offered a competitive space for students to test UAV technology skills against each other, and the competition keeps getting better every year.
The TSA is a national, non-profit organization of middle and high school students who engage in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. TSA members participate in challenging competitions, leadership opportunities and community service. With chapters in 36 states, the TSA is supported by educators, parents and business leaders who believe in the need for a technologically literate society. The TSA provides opportunities for students from diverse backgrounds to pursue academic challenges among friends with similar goals and interests. The TSA focuses on the core belief that technology plays a vital role in a better future for everyone.
From the drone competition’s inception in 2017, PCS Edventures has supported the ITSA by providing drone hardware and UAV expertise. As the competition evolves, the PCS participating members have enjoyed attending the conference and getting to know the bright young students who never fail to impress through their creativity, dedication and enthusiasm. Likewise, these members have enjoyed seeing the changes in the competitive structure as the students, mentors and other supporters continue to refine the competition to match current trends in drone technology and application.
The 2020 event was the third annual iteration. Groups from all over the State of Idaho convened at the College of Southern Idaho in Twin Falls to demonstrate their knowledge of drone technology and application. The competition included a written test, research presentations on drone applications to a panel of judges and a demonstration of drone piloting skills.
The exam portion of the competition tested competitor knowledge in three vital areas: General UAV technology, flight operations and FAA rules and regulations. Small changes in the first two occur quite often, but the most challenging knowledge test by far was keeping informed about the dramatic changes being implemented by the FAA as they work to safely integrate drones into the public airspace. Congratulations are in order for everyone who rose to the challenge and stayed current in their knowledge and understanding of FAA rules and regulations.
In addition to completing the written test, students worked in pairs to present research on how drones can be used to improve some facet of life within their communities or society at large. They were judged on creativity, knowledge, breadth of research and presentation as they shared what they learned with a panel of judges provided by PCS Edventures!
Finally, there was the drone flight portion of the competition. This year, the competition changed to accommodate flying indoors, and students were given two different tasks to demonstrate their skills. In the first task, they flew their drones around a caged-in obstacle course, trying to complete as many laps as possible in the time allotted. In the second, they added modifications to their drones to allow them to pick objects up and deliver them from one location to another. This was an especially difficult task, and it was truly inspiring to see the teams come together to support one another as the challenges arose.
At day’s end, PCS Edventures was thrilled to participate in a new event added to the ITSA competition, the All Hands on Tech event. This trial was designed to put current and emerging technologies in the hands of both students and educators alike. The event was attended by many technology companies and organizations throughout Idaho, and was open to the local community as well as the ISTA competitors. During this event, PCS Edventures provided the tools and guidance for attendees to try some hands-on drone flight practice with a real mini-drone, as well as opportunities to experience high-speed racing through use of an FPV drone racing simulator.
At the end of the ITSA competition, scores were tallied and winners were declared. Everyone at PCS Edventures would like to offer their heartfelt congratulations to all who participated, and we all look forward to continuing the Idaho Technology Student Association partnership as we work towards the shared goal of preparing students to be leaders in a technology-driven world.
Are you interested in bringing drones to your school? Contact a STEAM Program Specialist today to get resources and advice from the experts. You can reach them at (800) 429-3110 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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