The Art of Drones class takes off at Nellie N. Coffman Middle School

Sometimes school board meetings feel like a buzz. But Tuesday night’s meeting of the Palm Springs United Board of Education turned out differently.

The board has approved an exciting new class for the 2022-23 school year called “The Art of Drones”.

In it, seventh and eighth graders at Nellie N. Coffman Middle School in Cathedral City will learn programming, physics, and engineering to gain an understanding of the fundamentals of how small drones work. They will also learn about the professional and technical applications of drones, and they will study the design, purposes and functionality of drones, from exploration to video capture to racing. Students will even learn the regulatory procedures that govern the safe and legal operation of drones in the United States.

A student reaches out to feel the airflow under a drone piloted by a classmate from Painted Hills Middle School in Desert Hot Springs, Calif., Friday, June 24, 2022.

Perhaps most excitingly, students will have the opportunity to work collaboratively to operate drones by engaging them in team challenges.

The new course offerings follow the grand opening last year of Nellie N. Coffman Middle School’s “Cougar Den” Innovation Center, the first of its kind among middle schools in the district. The Cougar Den includes space and equipment for esports, vlogging, robotics, coding, and 3D printing.

After:Opening of the PSUSD Innovation Lab at Nellie N. Coffman Middle School

After:PSUSD teams compete in esports finals

Likewise, this course is the first of its kind in a PSUSD college. But Superintendent Mike Swize said at Tuesday’s board meeting that if all goes well, the drone art class could eventually be rolled out to other colleges.

Jonathan Horwitz covers education for The Desert Sun. Contact him at [email protected] or @Writes_Jonathan.

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