Tate’s Middle School Students Soar with New Drone Curriculum

For the past 48 years, Tate’s School has been known for educational innovation in the classroom. Tate’s School has just announced that they have integrated a unique and practical initiative to engage middle school students with emerging technology: the Drone Pilot Program (DPP). 

As a part of Tate’s advanced technology curriculum, the Drone Pilot Program is designed for 6th and 7th graders and teaches students to understand the theory behind Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) flight operation as well as the ability to apply that knowledge in real time flight scenarios.

Tate's Drone

The architect and instructor of the course is Dr. Donald Gunter, the former Director of Standards and Evaluations for Boeing UAV Training. Students will benefit from his extensive aviation experience as an Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) pilot, airline pilot, certified flight instructor, and UAV instructor and evaluator. Dr. Gunter has 31 years of military service including service at the Pentagon and the Strategic Operations Center in Iraq with General David Petraeus. Gunter has logged over 31,000 flight hours and helped develop the curriculum for Boeing’s ScanEagle UAV program. “Flying drones can be complicated, but Dr. Gunter makes it look easy. I think I would like to fly drones for the military one day,” said Ethan Anderson, a sixth grader at Tate’s.

Students will complete the second half of the course by aligning their flight experience and training with other technology areas including visual media and video editing. “Incorporation of drones in Tate’s curriculum is a natural fit. Our philosophy of a STEAM -based (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, Mathematics) education centers on providing real-world application of learned information and skills. With our new drones, students can explore projects like mapping the campus using GPS technology, creating scenarios to chronicle the movement of different empires in their studies of ancient cultures, or debating the use of drones in society in relation to individual privacy and effects on industry workforce needs,” said Misty Anderson, Tate’s Technology Specialist, who holds a Master’s Degree in Instructional Technology and Educational Studies.

This program directly aligns with our STEAM curriculum and helps to develop the next generation of aerospace scientists and engineers,” said school founder, Lou L Tate. Tate’s School is a STEMspark school, supports high quality STEM education, and has an ongoing partnership with the Graduate Association for Mechanical, Aerospace and Biomedical Engineers at the University of Tennessee.

“Not only does the incorporation of drones aid our different academic areas, but learning about the systematic operation of the machines, the governing bodies of aviation, and the specifics of safe drone operation are enriching activities that broaden our students’ horizons and open their minds to new career opportunities,” said Kaye Simmons, Principal. Tate’s School will be expanding with the addition of 7th grade in the fall of 2016 and 8th grade in the fall of 2017.

Tate's Drone 2

If you would like to learn more about Tate’s School, check out their 7th Annual Open House on Saturday, April 16 from 10 am – 2 pm. Hosted jointly with Tate’s Day Camp, visiting families can enjoy a hayride tour of the tranquil 52 acre campus featuring three saltwater pools, zip lines, an archery range, climbing walls, a rappelling tower, a boating pond, and the unique rustic log classrooms that define the campus. Tate’s teachers will be in each classroom and will be hosting child centered activities across campus. Families are invited to enjoy lunch (provided free) and play on the wonderful playgrounds around campus.

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