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Putting the A in STEAM: Coding Drones for Artistic Expression

Explore and create
Pre-registration required

Explore and create : Creation lab

Tyler Downey  
Drones can be used to teach coding and as a means of artistic expression. Participants will work in small groups to code DJI Tello drones to move about autonomously, learning foundational skills needed to create drone performance art using DroneBlocks, a drag-and-drop free programming language.

Audience: Curriculum/district specialists, Principals/head teachers, Library media specialists
Skill level: Beginner
Attendee devices: Devices useful
Attendee device specification: Smartphone: Android, iOS
Tablet: Android, iOS
Participant accounts, software and other materials: DroneBlocks app-




Topic: Emergent technologies
Grade level: 6-12
Subject area: STEM/STEAM, Computer science
ISTE Standards: For Students:
Empowered Learner
  • Students understand the fundamental concepts of technology operations, demonstrate the ability to choose, use and troubleshoot current technologies and are able to transfer their knowledge to explore emerging technologies.
Innovative Designer
  • Students know and use a deliberate design process for generating ideas, testing theories, creating innovative artifacts or solving authentic problems.
Computational Thinker
  • Students understand how automation works and use algorithmic thinking to develop a sequence of steps to create and test automated solutions.
Disclosure: The submitter of this session has been supported by a company whose product is being included in the session

Proposal summary

Purpose & objective

The purpose of this presentation is to demonstrate that drones are highly engaging tools that cut across several dimensions of STEAM. By completing the shared activities, participants will be able to make strong connections between this important emerging technology, computer programming and creative/artistic expression.


STEAM: why the A is important and how it relates (slides and lecture) 15 min
General overview of drones (slides and lecture) 10 min
Introduction to the DJI Tello (slides and lecture) 10 min
Introduction the DroneBlocks coding app (device-based activity) 15 min
Sample activity 1- Coding basic functions (device-based activity) 10 min
Sample activity 2- Drone costume prototyping (device-based activity) 10 min
Demonstration- Coding a performance art piece (video presentation) 10 min
Q & A- (discussion) 10 min

Supporting research

STEAM: Using the Arts to Train Well-Rounded and Creative Scientists

Why the “A” in STEAM Education is Just As Important As Every Other Letter

Lea Pereyre: Drone Costume Design (2016 WORLD.MINDS Annual Symposium)

Use these strategies to incorporate drones in STEAM education

Drones Take Their Place in the K–12 Classroom

Drones in Education — How Drones Can Make Teaching a Fun and Engaging Experience

More [+]


Tyler Downey, PCS Edventures! Inc.

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