Drone Discovery to challenge scores of New York City youth

Several hundred New York City schoolchildren will design and fly foam planes, code virtual flight patterns, and explore the practical uses of drones and other unmanned aircraft to mark 4-H National Youth Science Day (4-H NYSD) at Public School 21 in Brooklyn on Friday, Oct. 7.

Hosted by Cornell Cooperative Extension New York City (CUCE-NYC), the event occurs as more than 100,000 youth nationwide plan to participate throughout October in Drone Discovery, a hands-on program created by a Cornell team composed of campus and county partners in collaboration with National 4-H Council.

Drone Discovery teaches youth to use the engineering design process to understand unmanned flight and its applications. First, participants learn about aircraft types by designing and flying simple fixed and rotary wing aircraft; next, they discover how drones can gather data with a foam glider and keychain camera; and finally, youth explore the basics of coding, as they program virtual drones to solve real-world challenges, such as tracking the spread of an invasive plant species or searching for lost people or pets.

National 4-H Council selected Cornell as the university partner for 4-H NYSD this spring after a competition among land-grant institutions. Across New York’s 57 counties and New York City’s boroughs, approximately 190,000 youth annually participate in 4-H programs offered by schools, clubs, camps and other locations – a youth development network underpinned by Cornell expertise. Administered by the Bronfenbrenner Center for Translational Research(BCTR) in the College of Human Ecology, New York state 4-H acts as the youth component of Cornell Cooperative Extension, focusing on helping young people to grow in the areas of STEM, healthy lifestyles and citizenship.

At the Brooklyn event, organized by Lucinda Randolph-Benjamin, CUCE-NYC extension associate for family and 4-H youth development, some 300 to 400 youth are expected to complete the Drone Discovery activities with their teachers, joined by Cornell staff and leaders who designed the challenge. Activities will run from 10 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.

Additionally, Cornell staff will participate in two other 4-H NYSD events. On Oct. 5, Alexa Maille, Drone Discovery project leader and state 4-H STEM specialist in the BCTR, will speak at a panel, “Breaking the STEM Barrier: A Youth-Led Perspective,” at the 4-H NYSD flagship event in Washington, D.C. On Oct. 21, Maille and other CCE leaders will host a Drone Discovery challenge at Cornell’s Mann Library for approximately 40 youth from Tompkins County and the surrounding area.

The Cornell team that developed Drone Discovery includes Maille; Susan Hoskins, senior extension associate in soil and crop sciences; Anne Glasgow, CCE Broome County; Charles Malone, CCE Genesee County; and June Mead, CCE Broome County.

“We are so excited to see Drone Discovery in action,” Maille said. “Drone Discovery is a great example of Cornell campus and county extension educators working together to inspire youth to explore new technology and STEM learning.”

Last updated October 4, 2016