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Kids these days get everything in school. Back when I was in high school, the most advanced piece of tech I used was a graphing calculator – and don’t even ask me for what. Today, many schools nationwide are stocked to the brim with tablets and laptops to help facilitate learning. Students are even taking coding classes, a far cry from the simple keyboard class that taught me how to type 72 words per minute in middle school. Now, drones are starting to invade the classroom, giving today’s youngsters access to some truly advanced technology all in the pursuit of education.

Lee Butterfield, an Anchorage high school teacher, is introducing drones into his classroom as a way of incorporating what’s happening in the real world with his teachings. “The goal is to always be out front – cut these kids loose and put them in a place where they can grow,” Butterfield told Alaska Dispatch News. He’s partnering with Alaska Aerial Media to create an entire class that seeks to teach students how to operate drones for professional, industrial purposes.

Butterfield’s class is set to be the first of its kind, revolutionizing what it means to integrate technology into the classroom and teaching students valuable applications they can use to get jobs in the real world. “There are people using drones as teaching tools, but they’re not teaching drones. There are a lot of people using them to teach physics of flight, but none with the express purpose to prepare kids for jobs within the economy.” To help get his students ready to be contributors to society, Butterfield plans to teach them to fly drones, use them to capture aerial footage and operate 3D printers in order to manufacture parts of these aircrafts. The class also covers mapping out flight paths, FAA drone regulations and the physics of air space and flight.

Ryan Marlow, one of Butterfield’s partners at Alaska Aerial Media, believes it’s important for students to learn how to operate drones because of the practical nature of the skill. An expertise in drones will be a huge leg-up for these kids when they graduate, making them much more attractive to the job market. “It’s an instant career,” Marlow said. “Unmanned systems are blowing up as far as the uses and the integration.” As drones continue to advance and proliferate into society, the knowledge and know-how to operate these devices will prove increasingly crucial to many students who want to stand out and have marketable skills when it comes time to search for jobs.

In order for students in Butterfield’s class to operate commercial drones without a FAA license, they’ll have to pass a FAA administered test, which the class will prep them for. Still, anyone can pilot a drone without a license as just a hobby, which means similar classes could start popping up in other high schools around the country. Before you know it, the youths of today will be schooling us on drones. Might be time to consider re-enrolling.

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