- Nov 15, 2021
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Here at DroneBlocks, we are constantly working on new and exciting ways to keep our STEM Drone curriculum engaging, cutting edge, and accessible. The exciting new update to our DroneBlocks Simulator does just that, by creating a virtual “sandbox” where students can experiment coding Tello drone missions in a vibrant, 3D, interactive environment…and access it anywhere making it inclusive for everyone.
Code, Test, Fly!The simulator introduces students to an essential step in any real-world engineering workflow by allowing them to test and practice their flight before launching a real mission in the physical classroom setting. We also provide this step to maximize the potential for success. In the real world, you would never create code and send it to a piece of hardware or production system before testing. After creating and testing missions in the DroneBlocks Simulator, students can sync their missions through their account on the DroneBlocks application to use them for a live launch on the real Tello Drone. The students will marvel at this hands-on experience that gives them the ability to mimic their successful virtual flight mission, in the real world!
We’ve also included some features to aid students in the development of their coding skills. The Tabbed Canvas feature gives students the ability to work on more than one mission at a time, so as to easily test different sections of code in order to effectively problem solve, tapping into their higher-order thinking skills. Block-Highlighting works as an error analysis tool that assists students in identifying errors in their code by highlighting which line of code is being launched moment by moment. This also allows educators to freely walk around the classroom monitoring student progress and give swift and focused feedback.
Beginning missions in the Simulator reinforce fundamentals as well as mitigate the potential for real Drone mishaps and failed missions (crashes) in the classroom ensuring a safe experience.
Lift Off!The drone coding simulator is designed using Unity, a familiar game design software, so most students will recognize similarities with some of their favorite video games and tap into their prior knowledge. The new launch features a bustling city environment that allows users to fly the drone on missions around virtual skyscrapers, trains, and the town mall. The city’s 3D map is differentiated to ensure success for all learners. The design creates enough open space for beginner test flights, as well as having the potential for creating a challenging drone obstacle course for more advanced students.
We’ve included some cool features that help students learn flight navigation basics, while also mirroring what they might experience during a live drone mission. The drone trail leaves a highlighted trail of the drone’s flight path, allowing the students to trace back their drone’s trajectory when problem-solving. The optional Grid gives an assist to students who must chart their drone’s path by measuring distance or plotting points. The FPV Window gives a view of the drone’s “camera” if the mission objectives involve snapping photos from the Tello Drone’s point of view. And last but not least, if the Drone collides with a building or tree in the simulator, it will wobble and crash…much like in the real world!
AccessibilityThe Drone Coding Simulator has been designed with student accessibility in mind. Our team has listened to the most common hurdles experienced by educators and students working to code with DroneBlocks...and our simulator offers the solutions!
Firstly, the DroneBlocks simulator is web-based, which means it does not require any installation and it can be run on lightweight hardware such as Chromebooks or home computers. This ensures that all students can gain access to the simulator on school-assigned computers, in addition to practicing their Coding skills at home for fun, or as part of a homework assignment. The simulator also makes the perfect curriculum for remote learning, with dozens of built-in lessons to explore all from home. Another common problem we often hear STEM educators come across is an unfavorable Student-to-Drone ratio in large classes. With the introduction of the simulator, more students can gain valuable time and access to the proper amount of practice. Whether there aren’t enough drones to go around the classroom or if some students need more time to master their skills. The Drone Coding Simulator is included with the DroneBlocks Enterprise License, which allows an unlimited number of students to utilize the simulator.
We are super excited for our users to take the simulator for a spin. We believe it will become an essential piece of the curriculum for teaching Drone Coding in the classroom providing support to all learners and creating a program that is accessible to everyone. Any and all of our existing block code curriculum can be used with the simulator and we are already underway developing a new curriculum that is designed specifically to be used within the simulator. The next update, coming in early 2022, will be a 3D Mars environment as well as the ability to code using Python. If you don’t yet have the DroneBlocks Enterprise License, you can contact us here to find out more.