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Teacher launches drone club at South Dakota high school


He sees the possibilities for drones to help in agriculture, real estate, marketing ... "We'll see more drones . (but) for South Dakota I think we're way ahead."


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Parents file into the bleachers, and about a dozen students prepare to show off their skills on the court, or rather, in the air above the court. The Jan12 event is only the second of its kind hosted by the fledgling Flight Club, which works with dronesThe drones buzz around the gym, through navigation challenges including an obstacle course designed by one of the Flight Club membersStanding below them, you can feel the wind from their spinning propellers. Teacher Nathan Hofflander estimates Roosevelt is the only high school in the state currently using drones in education, but he's doing everything he can to make the technology accessible to other schools. "It seemed like a natural fit that we learn how the technology works and how to make the technology work for us," Hofflander said. Hofflander started the Flight Club during the 2016-17 school year when he realized his personal interest in drones could bring a new learning tool to his classroom, especially with increasing push for STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) learning in education. He purchased a handful of drones after a successful crowdfunding campaign on DonorsChoose.org in the fall of 2016, and the following spring, he received a grant from the Sioux Falls Education Foundation to purchase even moreRoosevelt currently has a fleet of 12 drones. The Flight Club is also engaging students who aren't active in other extracurricular groups. Kim Weaver, 17, joined Flight Club after taking a computer science course with HofflanderThe obstacle course used in the winter drone event was her design. "This is kind of the first time I've been a part of something like this," Weaver said. She'd also like to see a day when different schools can host drone competitions or races. Students in Flight Club aren't necessarily the same students taking Hofflander's computer science or programming classes, but for those involved in both, drones are one way to see practical ways to use what they're learning. Freshman Adam Mace, 14, enjoyed working with drones so much, he went out and bought one exactly like the ones used in classMace plans to work in cyber security someday, and Flight Club fuels his interest in technology. Drones aren't necessarily just for future programmers, Hofflander saidHe sees the possibilities for drones to help in agriculture, real estate, marketing, inspections for roofs and bridges, and even health care. Hofflander is currently working with Sanford Health on concussion research by sharing aerial drone footage of football games, the Argus Leader reported . The drones are also helping other student groups including the marching band, which has also used drone footage to get a birds-eye view of the marching arrangement. To encourage other schools to bring drones into learning, Hofflander shares classroom examples and other resources on a forum he calls "The Volare Project" based on the Latin word "to fly." For now, Roosevelt is ahead of the curve when it comes to drone use in the classroom, but Hofflander hopes more schools will pick up on the trend. "We'll get there," he said"We'll see more drones (but) for South Dakota I think we're way ahead." More On This Argus Leader

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