In our December newsletter, we highlighted the launch of STEAM for the Win, initiated by one of our Program Coordinators, Chris Singer. The primary objective is to introduce STEAM activities to the Philomath School District’s Special Education, Life Skills, and Youth Transition Program. In the ongoing second phase, students have begun learning the assembly and construction of drones.

Utilizing Drones for Cultivating Employability Skills

Employing drones as an instructional tool for special education high school students proves valuable in fostering skills like digital literacy, problem-solving, critical thinking, teamwork, and attention to detail. These skills are pivotal for their post-graduation success.

The incorporation of drones provides a hands-on experience, allowing students to interact with technology and establish a robust foundation in digital literacy—an increasingly crucial asset in today’s job market and daily life.

During the initial building session, students encountered technical challenges, requiring them to troubleshoot, design solutions, and adapt to unforeseen obstacles. This nurtures the development of problem-solving and critical thinking skills, applicable in various post-high school scenarios, including employment and higher education.

With only six drones, generously donated by For The Win Robotics, students collaborate on drone-related tasks, building essential teamwork skills applicable in professional and social environments.

The process of building and programming drones demands attention to detail to ensure accurate assembly and programming. This precision-oriented skill is transferable to tasks requiring meticulousness. Throughout the school year, students will acquire practical skills in electronics, coding, assembly, maintenance, and repair—directly applicable to STEM-related fields and potential career paths. Some students might even leverage their drone skills to initiate small businesses, offering services like aerial photography or mapping.

Ongoing Activities for the School Year

In addition to learning coding and flying techniques for Hopper drones, students will engage in drone challenges designed to test their skills. These challenges involve solving specific problems, such as navigating obstacle courses, delivering payloads, playing capture the flag, participating in aerial scavenger hunts, and other inventive tasks that stimulate critical thinking.

Selected students will showcase their drone skills at Philomath’s elementary, primary, and middle schools. Guest speakers will be invited to discuss how they incorporate drones in their respective career fields. Plans are underway for an end-of-year showcase event and competition, featuring students from Philomath High School and Kings Valley Charter School, where they will demonstrate their drone building, flying, and coding abilities.

For more information about the STEAM For the Win pilot project, please reach out to Chris Singer, Program Coordinator for the Mid-Valley STEM-CTE Hub, at