Last fall, a group of Foxcroft School students were the only all-girls’ team to participate in the Kashmir World Foundation’s (KWF) Da Vinci Drone Challenge, part of a worldwide initiative to develop unmanned aerial vehicles to help save endangered species from poachers.
They learned the fundamental components and electronics of remotely operated aerial vehicles, built their own hexacopter, and customized it using CAD and 3D printing. For the final step — sending their drone skyward — Foxcroft offered its 500-acre campus to be the host site for Flight Day.
The team got its drone into the air first, and the school found a new partner.
“The more I learned about KWF’s initiatives,” says Head of School Catherine S. McGehee, “the more I realized their model was the perfect means to engage girls in learning robotics. It uses best practices for girls and technology, including collaboration and real-world problem-solving.”
Together KWF and Foxcroft engage high school girls locally and globally in robotics, provide role models and mentors for younger girls to discover and develop STEM skills earlier, and offer professional development for teachers.
The school has two drones and a group of girls taking the next steps: developing computer programs for flight missions and using the drone for real-world tasks, such as videotaping athletic events and taking pictures of the stars in the school’s Astronomy Club.
“We’re trying to do more integrated events to expand their understanding of how drones can be used, and get more girls excited about STEM,” says Science Department Chair Dr. Maria Evans. “And they’re looking forward to working with local middle schools to form another all-girls team!”