HomeDrone helps Kerr students learn technology

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 Kerr Elementary second grade students look on with Fox Chapel Area high school technology teacher Justin Paparielo during a drone presentation in which they are being photographed from above.
 By Tawnya Panizzi
It wasn’t a bird or a plane but a small molded plastic drone flying high above Kerr Elementary School, helping second-grade students learn about technology and flight.

The drone took aerial photos of the campus along Kittanning Pike as part of a program presented by Fox Chapel Area High School teachers Justin Papariello and Mitch Palucis.

“Our goal is to inspire students at a young age to be interested in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) fields,” Papariello said. “It is a pleasure working with younger students. They have limitless energy and potential.”

The project is part of a $20,000 Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Mathematics, or STEAM, grant that Kerr was awarded from the Allegheny Intermediate Unit for project-based learning activities.

The district’s Creativity and Literacy Program Director Alison Francis, along with second-grade teachers in art, physical education, computer, library and music, are working together on an engineering project to simulate a Kerr playground redesign.

It is a project in theory only — there are no current plans to reconfigure the outdoor space.After the drone took photos, students were given large maps of the area to give them a look at the landscape in its entirety.

Second-grader Ruby Adams thought the drone was “awesome!”“It went so high and gave us a bird’s-eye view of the area that we are going to use for our playground design,” Ruby said. “That’s really cool.”

Students also learned about how drones are built, operate and take pictures. The drones were operated by high school students.

Sean Baldis, a Kerr teacher, said the playground project allows teachers to connect concepts in the curriculum to concrete applications in the real world.

“The excitement for learning emanating from the students with each phase of this project is what every educator strives to achieve every day in the classroom,” Baldis said.