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Middle School STEM Students Reach New Heights

As a part of LISD's new Middle School Drone Program, students learned from community leaders about this new technology.

Middle school STEM students are gaining new perspectives this year. 

When they returned to school for the spring semester, students at LISD’s Middle School STEM Academies began our district’s very first middle school drone program. The program was designed to teach students about this new technology, how to use it responsibly and the real-world applications available in this new field. To get started, several community leaders spoke to the students about how they use drones in their individual careers.

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Officer Tanner Low, a School Resource Officer at Hebron High School’s 9th Grade Campus, detailed the usage of drones in police operations. He explained how in search and rescue operations, a drone might be used to scan a large area in a short amount of time. Officer Low even cited a recent community event, where drones were flying above a large crowd and spotted someone who needed medical treatment. Students brainstormed other ways law enforcement could use these tools, and learned more about the process to obtain different certifications.

“I would definitely recommend getting a [drone] license,” Officer Low told the students. “You’ll always find ways to use a drone certificate throughout your life.” 

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Adam Speiss, Station Manager for the town of Flower Mound, visited a Forestwood class and explained how drones have benefitted several different entities that keep the city running properly. “We’ve created a drone unit between the [Flower Mound] police department, fire department, public works department, facilities department and communications department,” he said. While facilities might use this technology to examine roofs, the fire department can also use them in house fire or even controlled fire scenarios. “We’re all trying to pool resources. We help [other departments] with manpower…it allows us to cross-share batteries and drones.” 

While there are many practical applications for drones in safety, security and public services, many creative uses for the emergent technology are also being explored. Bruce Latimer, who has been utilizing drones for over ten years to film weddings and shoot footage for web series and short films, shared how drone-mounted cameras have impacted the industry.

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“First, I am impressed that LISD is offering this class,” said Latimer. “There are so many new opportunities for drones and I imagine drones will be used more in a variety of businesses - thus creating a lot of job opportunities.”

As Latimer presented, intercutting examples of his work with explanations on drone technology, as well as general filming techniques and skills, he expressed the importance of building a strong knowledge base of drone flight, safety and ability.

“A drone is like any other tool and must be used correctly. Learning to operate a drone at a relatively young age allows the skills to become second nature which translates into better results which further translates into a sustainable career.

“If you want to create shots for a film,” Latimer continued, “watch a film which includes a drone shot. Think of ways you could duplicate the shot and how you would do it differently or better. Practice by watching a scene which does not have a drone shot and picture a way you could film the same shot using a drone - would it be better and why. Practice by imaging a shot you would take with a drone and thinking of the way you would create the shot.”

Armed with this new knowledge, STEM students will be tasked with creating a business proposal involving drones and presenting it to their peers. In order to complete the project they’ll have to identify the type of service they’ll provide, look for the specific machinery needed to accomplish their goals and create a pricing structure. To make their proposals come to life students are also working on obtaining their TRUST Certificate, which was developed by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to provide education and testing on important safety and regulatory information.

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“It’s very important that students see drones as more than recreation,” expressed Downing Middle School instructor Devon Phelps. “Drone career opportunities are being created as we know they can be helpful in various ways and situations. It’s always a good thing when you are able to take something you are good at and turn it into a career.” 

Lucky for these students, their path to these careers are made simpler by LISD’s Career and Technical Education Programs. “Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) are a fast-growing industry that is continuing to evolve in technology and usage,” said STEM Coordinator Ann Crosby. “Our students have the opportunity to continue their UAV pathway at TECC-E, where they can earn their 107 Commercial UAV Certification.” 

Armed with the knowledge from their guest speakers and teachers, LISD students are well-equipped to pursue this burgeoning career field. Devon Phelps echoed this sentiment, as she watched her students excitedly interact with the technology.“We definitely have future drone operators in our middle school classrooms.”


From the beginning, Lewisville Independent School District has committed to ensuring all students are confident, equipped with the knowledge and skills to thrive and adapt for their future. Follow Lewisville ISD on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter to see more student experiences throughout the school year or visit Best Schools in Texas for more information about joining the LISD family.