Drones and robotics are the backbone of modern grade school STEM education. Engaging kids with lesson plans that feel more like building a toy than learning, is an excellent way to keep kids interested and encourage them to familiarize themselves with modern technology. And while we are seeing more and more schools embrace STEM and robotics education, the sad reality is that for many modern schools they are simply unable to afford the equipment necessary for a proper training program. Many drone and robotics kits designed for the classroom can still cost hundreds of dollars per student. Additionally, equipment like 3D printers may be dropping in price, but the cost of having someone trained on site to work and maintain them also needs to be considered for most schools.
That means that if some of North America’s underfunded grade school teachers want to bring useful STEM education into their class, they usually need to bring the materials in themselves, on their own dime. And since we pay most public school teachers in rolls of coins and crumpled up slips of paper that say “IOU” on them, these dedicated educators need real, low cost options. Unfortunately those low cost options are either scarce or low cost for a reason. But a recently launched Kickstarter campaign is looking to tackle that problem head on.
SkyBot is a small, 3D printed drone kit that will walk students, or even interested adults, through the concepts of basic drone and robotics construction. The kit will help students understand the fundamentals of drone lift and develop practical aerodynamic experience using real electronic components and parts. All of the SkyBot drone software, fabrication and development was done from scratch to make sure that it was easy to use and build while still being an enriching educational experience.
“When we began working on SKYBOT, our goal was to make hands-on drone learning platform for both students and professional engineers. This meant making SKYBOT small and lightweight, yet durable enough to take with you anywhere. Intelligent enough so no piloting skills were required, and most of all, pricing SKYBOT at a point that makes it affordable,” explained SkyBot Head of Marketing Freddie Hernandez.
Take a look at the SkyBot Kickstarter campaign video:
The SkyBot team currently runs and operates a hands-on robotics program for the Los Angeles chapter of “The Boys and Girls Club of America”, focused on K-5 to K-12 students. That allowed them direct access to the very group that SkyBot is developing their product for. The students worked with them to make the design appealing and fun, while they also worked with 3D printing experts to maximize their drone design and functionality.
The resulting drone is a small, lightweight and durable mini RC drone that is simple for new users to easily pick up and fly. SkyBot has a unique hexagonal shape that allows the drone higher lift and minimizes the weight and drag of the frame. And because the drone frame is 3D printable, educators and students can download the original files and modify them using using simple modelling programs like Tinkercad.
Early Bird backers of the Kickstarter campaign can get a full drone kit with everything that is needed to construct it for a $64 contribution, to start. That includes the 3D printed frame, the control board and microcontroller, the quad motors, replaceable Geo-Blades, a battery and charger box and easy to follow assembly instructions. Everything has been designed so there is no soldering required to assemble and wire the drone. It will also include sample codes that will allow the drone to automatically perform flips and tricks.
The campaign is only looking to raise $6,400 to start a small production run of the SkyBot and will be running for about another two months or so. Honestly, this should be a no brainer, as most small remote controlled drones of this nature cost closer to $100, and backers will get the satisfaction of building the drone on their own. Visit us on our SkyBot 3D Printed Drone forum at 3DPB.com and let us know what you think of this Kickstarter campaign.