ASSURE partner DJI provides UAS/Drone for 4-H National Youth Science Day

October 6, 2016

Edward Kostakis, a senior pilot at DJI, hands the controls to a Phantom 4 drone to Duncan Beall, during the 4-H National Youth Science Day
at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C.
Photo: Bart Jansen, USA TODAY.
At the quiet corner of a table in a noisy ballroom, Kat Kenton molded pieces of foam into the tail and wings of a rudimentary glider.

"I'm not trying to make it perfect, just as straight as possible," Kat, a 10-year-old from Frederick, Md., said as she adjusted the tail rudder.

She was one of 200 children Wednesday at the National Press Club and 100,000 nationwide participating in the 4-H National Youth Science Day under the theme of "drone discovery."

"Today our main goal is to make science fun and to give kids an opportunity to spark an interest," said Jennifer Sirangelo, CEO of National 4H Council. "This is a way for young people to find out that science can be fun and hands-on."

While 4-H has a reputation for children raising animals or making crafts for county fairs, the science of genetics for raising rabbits has grown to include aerodynamics of flying remote-controlled aircraft.

The drone manufacturer DJI provided a Phantom 4 quadcopter for children to watch and even briefly control indoors. Edward Kostakis, a senior pilot for DJI, demonstrated how the quadcopter could hover in place and return automatically to the same height and location when pulled aside.

Then he turned over the controls to Duncan Beall, 9, of West Friendship, Md.

"I landed a drone," said the smiling boy, who added that it might spur him to learn more about math and science.

Scott Beall, 12, of Woodbine, Md., said he's been flying a Traxxas drone for about a year over his family's farm.

"They're cool," he said. "I fly it up and try to get a big picture of the whole property."

Across the room, older students set up laptops to illustrate how to write computer programs that could guide drones.

Joshua Rodgers, a 4-H student youth ambassador from Nashville, Ark., said aerospace companies like Lockheed Martin encourage students to pursue careers in engineering or other sciences, but it's sometimes a tough sell.

"There's a study that shows nearly half of all middle-school kids would rather take out the trash than do their math homework," Rodgers said. "We're trying to spark interest in people becoming engineers in the future. Science isn't all boring you get to do fun stuff."
Kat Kenton didn't need the extra nudge.

"I already love math and science," she said, before sending her glider sailing across the room. "I just love everything about it."

Story Courtesy of USA Today
Written by Bart Jansen, USA TODAY