TLPD TRIP: The Mercian Trust

The use of mathematics in Drone Technology

A case study from the TRIP led by The Mercian Trust in collaboration with Walsall Studio School, Droneworx, Painsley School and Access to Music (now known as Access Creative).

The TRIP was part of the first phase of the T Level Professional Development (TLPD) offer, which enabled T Level providers to participate in sector-led, collaborative action research projects.

Project aims

  • Upskill teaching staff
  • Train staff in drone flying
  • Register staff and test them with Civil Aviation Authority (CAA)
  • Provide mathematics support materials and measurement tools.

Project overview

The project was to give partner schools knowledge of drone technologies and the mathematics that underpins flight, together with the software developments that have allowed this to occur.
Control of drones in the early days used to be the remit of electronic boffins, cleverly adapting gaming controllers and remote-control model aircraft interfaces. It was purely to control basic flight in line of site. It has evolved now into very sophisticated software using very advanced mathematic protocols in control and flight systems. These are the very essence of T Level thinking using computer sciences at the highest level.

The project allowed the participants to engage in flying techniques together with a CAA (Civil Aviation Authority) test of competence and safety. This, together with the registration of an owned drone, allows users to safely and (most importantly) legally fly.

The mathematics training together with an assessment of assimilation joined with the drone training forms a solid foundation in an exciting T Level project that spans digital and construction pathways. The training together with the support materials will allow participants the ability to cascade these materials to other staff and students alike.

Positive outcomes and expected impact

All the partners stated that they would cascade the course contents to their staff and students and integrate into their T Level provision for the Digital route.

Impact on:

  • The organisation – the contents of the training would be cascaded down to other staff in their institutions ensuring wider assimilation.
  • Teaching staff – 10 staff have been fully trained which will allow further dissemination to their institutions.
  • Students – effective training of drone technologies and the mathematics that underpins it. This will allow for good grades to be achieved in a subject that is exciting, stimulating and totally measurable.
  • Employers/other key stakeholders – Droneworx have run the effective training and have been positioned to the participants as experts in their field and an excellent resource to call on for advice and an excellent supplier (if required) of specific drone equipment.

Future activity to support T Level implementation and delivery

The project specifically combined the sciences of flight and advance mathematic principles together with software development, to produce exciting and rewarding resources. The mathematics that underpins flight makes teaching of STEM related projects a reality whilst keeping enthusiasm high with a technology that is exciting and stimulating. The teaching resources that will be supplied will allow teachers to combine maths and flight into a wide plethora of applications from video production to construction.

Drone technologies are present in so many areas, not just for entertainment, but in many areas of public services (fire, rescue, police) and wider in military applications. Drones have a vital scientific and cultural influence now and for generations to come. As more sophisticated algorithms are produced, projects can be adapted to use the specific maths and flight resources in T Level provision. The course materials will allow participants to cascade to other staff and students, useful techniques and skills to support T Level provision.

Recommendations for preparing for T Levels

The main recommendation is to ensure that all teaching and learning is done in a creative and stimulating way. Our choice of drone technology was very current and will appeal in future to staff and students alike.

I would recommend that this principle is applied to all teaching methods in using innovative and ‘future proof’ technologies.

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