Long Island middle school students take part in “Drone Olympics,” learn how to code and fly the technology into future


WILLISTON PARK, N.Y. — Drones were buzzing inside a Long Island school on Tuesday as a gymnasium was converted into an obstacle course to teach technology in a fun way.

As CBS2’s Carolyn Gusoff reported, a nonprofit organization is bringing this unique learning to schools nationwide.

Flying into the future, Williston Park middle school students were learning how to code by teaching drones where to fly and where not to.

“You’re telling the drone exactly how many inches to go up and how many inches to go forward and backward and how to turn and where to go,” Schechter Schol of Long Island eighth grader Mikey Benlevi said.

“It’s definitely a peek into engineering and all that kind of trial and error,” classmate Shir Levenson added.

This peaking of interest in science, technology, engineering, and math has been brought to schools by the nonprofit Center for Initiatives in Jewish Education. It brings to life scientific principles.

“Like compounding error, precision, accuracy, things that normally don’t come up in regular class, that are often boring,” the center’s Adam Jerozolim said.

There was no boredom on Tuesday, the last day of the mask mandate. At Schechter School of Long Island, you could still make out the smiles. The student drones are unlike CBS2’s drone, which is steered by remote control and gives a bird’s-eye view of the action below.

The ones used Tuesday are autonomous, so students had to think ahead. They worked in teams, like real-life engineers do.

Kids quickly learned that lots can go wrong with drones. It is technology, but there are plenty of unpredictable factors.

“It’s real world. It’s how drones fly. It’s windy. There are batteries. It might flip over. It might crash. The propellers might fly away and you have to develop your code to take that into account,” Jerozolim said.

Students learned more than coding.

“There are problem-solving skills, for sure, coping skills. There are failures,” science teacher Rhoan Clarke said.

And some tech careers may take off.

“It’s inspiring kids to show them that, like, a lot of things are very actually fun and it’s not all work. It’s a lot of, you know, play in a smart and educated way,” eighth grader Shay Ginzburg said.

In schools across the nation, so far no one has finished on the bull’s-eye in the time limit, but students are landing a love of learning.

The Drone Olympics, as the course is called, is offered to sixth to eighth graders. 



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