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boy building a single engine plane and looking at it eye level
by Anish Vedantham '25
Thanks to a substantial grant, Mr. Travis White is spearheading an initiative to advance drone studies within the Providence Day (PD) curriculum.
 
The grant, totaling approximately $13,000, will be transformative in introducing students to aviation and coding while equipping them with skills for the future.
 
collage of photos of Travis White's engineering class building and flying drones
He says, “Our goal is to introduce students to aviation, use drones as a pathway into coding, and to give students more resources to solve problems they will solve in Robotics and Engineering class.”
 
The grant encompasses three core areas: programmable drones, equipment for the Drone Club, and videography drones. All three facets are designed to cater to both the middle and upper school levels. Mr. White envisions these initiatives as vital catalysts for nurturing critical skills that translate into valuable assets for future careers.
 
“The drone industry is growing quite quickly, so the introduction of drones serves two purposes,” he says. “We want students to be introduced to the field of drones as a potential path for them after PD, but they are also an engaging way to engage with many other STEM-related ideas.”
 
The connections with other STEM fields will also be seen in the program’s collaborations with other organizations. The grant will enable collaboration with external organizations to enrich the program.
 
“We plan to partner with Drones in School, which is a nationwide drone racing competition, and The Aviation Museum of Charlotte,” he says. “We are also looking for industry leaders in the Charlotte area to partner with.
 
"By integrating drones into the PD curriculum, Mr. White and the IDEAS department seek to prepare students for the future.
 
“We are creating special projects within our engineering and robotics curriculum to integrate drones,” he says. “These projects will mirror real-world problems that are uniquely solved using drone technology.”
 
Students are excited to take full advantage of the opportunities that are available. Sixth grade teammates Tolani Olukeye and Emma Wyatt, who are making a UFO drone with custom 3D printed braces and mounts, agree that working with drones can help develop practical skills that are valuable for future careers.
 
“You learn the real meaning of hard work that you can always apply to anything you do,” Tolani says. “You learn what it's like to work under pressure with the due date. And that nothing comes fast and easy."
 
“I think that building these drones really helps our practical and mathematical thinking, since you need to work efficiently but accurately at the same time,” Emma agrees.  “It also improves our creative thinking which is particularly helpful if you are going into the field of technology and innovation since you really need to be able to problem solve.”
 
Mr. White's initiative represents a commitment to innovative education by integrating drones into PD's curriculum to prepare students for opportunities in a rapidly evolving technological landscape. His ultimate goal is to broaden the program's reach throughout the school.
 
He says, “The drone grant aims to get supplies for our robotics and engineering, but also supplies that the greater PD community can use.”