Project aims for new heights in Remsen

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REMSEN — Drones are coming to Remsen Junior/Senior High School for the 2020-21 school year, according to a Oneida-Herkimer-Madison BOCES announcement.

Remsen agriculture teacher Rayne Ives was awarded a grant from America’s Farmers Grow Rural Education and has purchased a DJI Phantom 4 V2.0 Drone with a Sentera NDVI sensor to begin a drone program at the school.

The grant funding also will provide full instructor training and materials for 10 students through SkyOp in Canandaigua. Remsen students will be taught a rigorous and relevant curriculum about recreational and commercial use of drones, drone flight simulation software, hands-on drone flight training and FAA Part 107 Test Prep, said the announcement.

Upon completion, students who are 16 or older will be eligible to take the 60-question FAA Part 107 Remote Pilot Knowledge Test and, upon passing the test, apply for their Remote Pilot Certificate. The certificate will enable Remsen students to use their own drones as a source of income.

The school district also is bringing programming and robotics into the seventh grade and recreational drone flight into the eighth grade, through business teacher and Career and Technical Education Coordinator Linda Smith. She and Ives will each complete nearly 40 hours of training in drone curriculum and drone flight.

The overall initiative will teach Remsen students to use drones safely and legally, the announcement noted. They will learn how to fly, understand which type of flight systems are available, know the system capabilities, understand how drones are used in industry and learn what to look for when choosing their own drones.

During the course, students will receive a SYMA X5C Quadcopter which they will first learn to navigate through obstacle courses indoors; this allows students to focus solely on controlling the aircraft without outdoor factors After completing increasingly difficult exercises, they will then train outside.

The announcement said uses for drones include capturing videos of homes and properties for real estate sales, checking fields in agriculture, inspecting damages for insurance companies, inspecting towers for energy companies, surveying, checking job sites in construction, delivering packages and filming during movie production.

Students who have earned their Remote Pilot Certificates will be able to use their drones commercially or may incorporate it into future employment. Those who take the new class will learn how to use the DJI Phantom 4 V2.0 Drone with a Sentera NDVI sensor to help local farmers create maps of their fields for analysis and GPS planning, and potentially participate in local drone competitions.

Also with funds from the $25,000 grant, Ives purchased three FarmBots which are open-source precision agriculture CNC farming machines that will be built on raised garden beds.

These will be housed indoors and at the elementary and high schools, and be assembled and programmed by agriculture students. She also purchased a floral cooler to incorporate floral design into the agriculture program.

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