The Idaho STEM Action Center recently awarded almost $150,000 in grants to equip 22 schools in Idaho with drones. Tia Cherry is a fourth grade teacher at Teton Elementary, a small school outside of Rexburg with about 125 kids. It's also a school that will have several drones this fall. 

The way Cherry said they got their drones was actually by mistake. "Actually it was apparently only open for 7th through 12th grade but I did not read that on the grant," she said. "I just wrote some really good reasoning on why it was important for my school and my students. So the Idaho STEM Action Center said that when they read the grant they ignored the fact that we were an elementary school and just put us at the top of the list."

Drone Training

Cherry said they are the only elementary school in Idaho to be part of the drone grant and will actually serve as a pilot program this coming school year. "As a fourth grade teacher, I want to show the kids especially in a small rural town a future they can be excited about," she said.

This coming school year, she said the students will be involved in a 5-week course where they will learn how to build 5 drones, learn a little bit of coding, and then eventually learn how to fly the drones. She explained what it's like flying the drones using 3D glasses that allow students to see what the cameras on the drones are capturing. "However high it is, you'll feel like you're that high," she said. "It's just a surreal feeling to have yourself fly up in the air."

Seeing What the Drone Sees

Parents, in case you are worried about safety, Cherry says she as well as other teachers are fully-trained and certified to fly the drones. They also have two remotes one for the student and one for the teacher in case anything goes wrong. "There's quite a few safety guidelines especially when you are with that young of a student," she said. "So we are just going to fly one at a time just because we feel that is the safest."

The STEM Action Center reported that Idaho's tech sector is the second fastest-growing in the nation at 6.3 percent. These drones are part of an effort to help lure more high-tech jobs and higher wages to the state.

Here are the other schools, districts, and sites who have been awarded money for drones:

Bingham Academy, Blackfoot
Blackfoot High School, Blackfoot
Cascade Schools, Cascade
Centennial High School, Boise
Culdesac School, Culdesac
East Junior High School, Boise
Fremont County Joint School District #215, St. Anthony Glenns Ferry Public Library, Glenns Ferry Hailey Public Library, Hailey Hillside Junior High School, Boise Kamiah School District #304, Kamiah Madison High School, Rexburg Mountain View Alternative High School, Rathdrum New Plymouth School District, New Plymouth Nezperce Junior High School, Nezperce Ridgevue High School, Nampa Salmon Public Library, Salmon South Junior High School, Boise Syringa Middle School, Caldwell Treasure Valley Math and Science Center, Boise Vallivue Middle School, Caldwell West Minico Middle School, Paul