Here is my outline for my Drones in Agriculture Workshop (90-120 min). Feel free to use any or all of it for your educational activities. I am also available to do this workshop for your group. Contact me for more information.

Old McDonald Has a Drone: UAS in Agriculture Workshop

What is a drone?
– A drone is an unmanned vehicle remotely piloted via radio control
– Also sometimes called: UAV (Unmanned Aerial Vehicle), UAS (Unmanned Aircraft System), RPAS (Remotely Piloted Aircraft System)

History of drones (very basic)
Reference video: https://youtu.be/VUW1UeOX_d8

Types of drones
– Fixed wing
– Single-rotor (helicopter)
– Multi-rotor
– Hybrid: Fixed wing with multi-rotors. Usually a VTOL (Vertical Take Off and Landing) configuration
– Pros and Cons comparison between platforms

Parts of a drone
– Airframe (body)
– Motors (usually electrical, brushless)
– Propellers
– Battery (Usually LiPO – Lithium Polymer)
– Control System
– ESC (Electronic Speed Controller)
– IMU (Inertial Movement Unit, gyros to help drone stabilize)
– GPS (Global Positioning System)
– Receiver (receives signal from transmitter)
– Transmitter (operated by pilot to control drone remotely)

Basic aeronautical concepts: Lift, Thrust, Drag, Gravity

How do quadcopters Fly? (video)

Examples of drone use in agriculture
– Crop scouting
– Plant stress and health via NDVI
– Mapping
– Inventory (nursery plants)
– Pesticide application (Yamaha R-Max)
– Bio control (dispersion of lady bugs to combat aphids)
– Mass calculation (manure piles, crops piles)

Sensors: NDVI, Thermal, Infrared, Near Infrared, LiDAR, Misc. (pollen, moisture, wind, pressure, etc.)

Rules, regulations and guidelines
Recreational/Hobby (FAA Safety Guidelines)
AMA (Academy of Model Aeronautics) Guidelines. This is where I talk about safety
Educational (FAA interpretation)
CommercialPart 107
CoA (Certificate of Authorization) – for public institutions, such as state universities
BVLOS (Beyond Visual Line of Sight) limitation and night time flight currently limit big time agriculture use and research
Privacy concerns (a discussion)

STEAM education
DroneSinger songs
INTEL swarm

Flight Training
– R/C flight simulator (RealFlight)
– Manual flight: Cheerson CX-10 nano drones (indoors, and goggles for eye protection)
– Syma X5C/X5SW: lightweight, medium sized quadcopters, easier to fly than the smaller nano drones
– Autonomous programmed flight: programming Parrot Minidrones with Tickle App on iPad

Other resources
Drone Glossary
“Drones in Education” book
eXtension UAS in Agriculture Learning Network

Regardless of all the negative publicity and privacy concerns surrounding Unmanned Aircraft Vehicles (UAVs), the truth is that the technology and science behind drones is truly incredible and they are a great platform for getting kids interested in STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math) education. I have yet to come across any kid who is not interested, if not fascinated, with these “flying robots”.