In September, thirteen year 9 students passed a competitive selection process and took on the ambitious task of building and learning to fly, a quadcopter.
First came the build: the frame of the quadcopter had to be built, motors wired, propellers attached, and the quadcopter had to be calibrated. The students showed amazing resilience in the face of many delays with the delivery of the parts they needed, each of the three teams eventually finishing their build over a month later, in the first week of November (after many evenings of hard work!).
Finally, we had three complete quadcopters. We thought the hard part was over – but we soon learned there was another mountain to climb! Flying the quadcopters seemed like a fun prospect – in reality it was almost impossible! The controls were so sensitive, much damage was sustained and parts had to be re-built. Again, the students showed perseverance with the project, re-building their quadcopters each time they crashed (which happened a lot). The most spectacular crash was in the sports hall, when one of the quadcopters hit the ceiling, before it came crashing down. Needless to say, there were major repairs to be done on that occasion…
It seemed there was another mountain to climb, and not much time – with only a matter of days until the regional final. The students dedicated so much of their free time to practicing flying the quadcopters, giving up break, lunch and after school on many occasions. Even other staff members were drafted in to support – so our thanks go to Dr. Clapp, Mrs. Calle-Martin, and Mr. Fernandez for their time.
The day of the regional final arrived, 14th November, and we arrived at the Military Command and Staff Trainer in Warminster to compete. The students really did themselves proud on this day, showcasing their achievements and placing third in the time trial. We also received a fascinating talk from Special Constable Guy Sanders about the uses of drones in the Wiltshire police force. I was so impressed by the way the students had worked as a team, drawing on each of their strengths. While some students were chosen to pilot the quadcopters, others had worked hard on their groups’ presentations, and others used their wealth of practice in fixing the quadcopters, to make emergency repairs on the day.
We’re hoping to compete in the Quadcopter Challenge again next year, and hopefully the students who participated can be key in training up the new recruits! For now, it’s time to learn to fly them properly!
Year 9 student Xander wrote his own report about the experience - read it here