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Middle School Students Learn About Unmanned Aircraft Systems at TAMU-CC Summer Camp

August 12, 2016

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CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas – You’re never too young to learn about the complexities of UAS technology. Middle school students from all over the Coastal Bend attended the inaugural Middle School Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) Camp at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi. The camp, co-hosted by the College of Science and Engineering (COSE) and the College of Education and Human Development (COEHD), was held Aug. 3-5, and was open to fifth through eighth grade students.

“We already have a UAS camp for high school students, but we wanted a camp for middle school students who are especially interested in science, technology, engineering and math, or STEM,” said Dr. Faye Bruun, COEHD Associate Professor of Curriculum and Instruction. “We want to encourage STEM interest in underrepresented students, especially young female students.”

During the hands-on camp, students were introduced to computer programming and UAS technology. Campers learned key concepts in computer programming using SCRATCH, a free programming language and online community where users can create their own interactive stories, games, and animations.  Students also assembled the controller to the UAS and programmed it to fly autonomously using Arduino, an open-source electronic prototyping platform.

“I learned about this camp through my grandpa, who works at the University,” said Lorena Esparza, an eighth grader at Baker Middle School. “The most exciting part of camp has been learning how to use SCRATCH to program a drone and help create commands for it to follow.”

Campers also had the opportunity to tour the UAS research lab at Texas A&M-Corpus Christi to deepen their understanding of the many uses of UAS technology.

“Exposure to advanced technology in the middle school age is so important because it helps to widen students’ views on this academic goal,” said Dr. Bruce Lee, COSE Assistant Professor of Engineering.

The camp was organized by faculty and staff of A&M-Corpus Christi including Mayra Alvarado Ramirez, Program Coordinator of Engineering Recruitment and STEM Outreach; Dr. Bruce Lee, Camp Director; Dr. Faye Bruun, Camp Director; Dr. Anjin Chang, COSE Post-Doctoral Research Associate; and Yazmin Muniz, COEHD Ph.D. student in Curriculum & Instruction.