8th Grade Quadcopter Project

Very quickly, I wanted to share what was delivered to the Spark Studio. Our school quadcopter has finally arrived!

The anticipation of starting the “Quadcopter Project,” has been tremendous! Everyday, a few of our 8th grade students have checked in with us to see if it has arrived. After some delays in getting one (they are very popular!), the boys got even more anxious. Sometimes they’ve come in three to four times a day just to see if its on its way!

Now that it has arrived, we have a strong feeling that the boys will be in the studio even more!

Several of our 8th graders are taking on this project. We encouraged them to “make something” that will encourage them to learn something important that they know nothing about. As a collaborative team, they will be documenting the process of building and controlling the quadcopter. We will link their blog once its set up.

Before we even decided to start this student-generated project, we had the students justify this project to Mr. Dominguez. Mr. Dominguez and I posed many important questions that comes with a big learning project like this. Here are some questions we asked:

  • What is the educational connection? What can you learn from this?
  • What will you need to learn? Which academic subjects/standards can help you in building this?
  • Who will be working on this project?
  • How will you work as a team? What happens if a teammate isn’t cooperating?
  • What is the timetable?
  • How will you control it?
  • What if it breaks? How will you troubleshoot problems?
  • Why should you learn electronics/robotics in this particular way?
  • Why this kit? What parts do you need? What is the cost? Are there alternatives to this kit?
  • How can you extend the learning process? What can you do with it once its built?
  • How can next year’s 8th grade class and the year after that, use this?
  • What are pros and cons?

…and so on. As you can see, its an undertaking that will require a lot to learn. They will need to learn the principles of mechanical engineering, embedded systems, programming, robotics and flight dynamics (roll, pitch, yaw), Being undeterred, the students wanted to make it happen and agreed to see this through.

Our goal is to help our students learn about robotics and demystify them. Building this quadcopter offers the visual stimulation of system interaction with the real physical world. We anticipate that troubleshooting will be a big component. With our new school MakerBot 3D Printer, our students can also learn how to design, and fabricate replacement parts or create a new, one of the kind part for the quadcopter.

What’s exciting to us, is seeing and FEELING the excitement and enthusiasm our students have for this project. They are learning–for the fun of it! Their curiosity has been sparked!

More to come! In the meantime, here are a couple of videos about quadcopters and see others have done with them.

This TED Talk demonstrates what concepts can be learned in building quadcopters


Here is a recent video of a Quadcopter filming a stampede of dolphins!


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