Clarkson’s Horizons II program combines experiential hands-on STEM learning with personal enrichment and team-building activities to empower students with 21st-century skills. In August 2021, Clarkson University’s Beacon Institute partnered with Drone Cadets to present its first Horizons II program to 12 middle and high school students at Peekskill City School District in the Hudson Valley.
Drone Cadets, a veteran-owned drone education program based in Middletown, NY, produces safe and responsible drone pilots of all ages. Certified Drone Instructor Sgt. Tony Reid gave the Peekskill students first-hand experience flying with and learning from a professional drone pilot.
“The future of drones sharing our skies is real, and we consider it an urgent need to help create safe, responsible drone pilots,” said Grace Cantwell, Co-Founder of Drone Cadets, “Horizons II helped inexperienced drone flyers become confident with their ability to control a drone.”
Daily “flight missions” were scaffolded to allow students to increase their skill level and trust in their co-pilots, encouraging camaraderie and confidence in themselves and each other. Students practiced the basics of drone flight and safety, and learned about the path to FAA part 107 drone pilot certification.
Brigette Walsh, Assistant Director of Environmental Programming, along with Student Conservation Association summer intern Trevor Jones, led the students in team-building and leadership exercises.
“Each day we tasked the group with activities that challenged them to build skills while growing in community with peers, developing self-esteem and envisioning a future with STEM,” said Walsh. The students practiced self-expression and communication skills in a workshop with teaching artist Poet Gold. Creative programs help students to interpret information and to voice their ideas confidently to encourage innovation in ever-changing STEM industries.
Professional opportunities for drone pilots and the commercial applications of drone technology are fast-growing.
Clarkson’s Horizons II at Peekskill City School District signifies the beginning of a strong partnership for K-12 programming and pathways to STEM careers for Peekskill students.