Middle School Students Learn STEM while Flying Drones at North Florida College

MADISON, FL (August 1, 2022) – Thirty-two middle school students from Hamilton, Jefferson, Lafayette, Madison, Suwannee, Taylor, Columbia, and Leon counties became enthusiastic drone pilots during North Florida College’s STEM (Science, Engineering, Technology, Math) SEALs (Sea, Air, and Land remotely operated vehicle design challenges) Camp held July 11th – 16th.

Students learned computer code, assembled drone attachments and remote controllers to test and fly drones. Their mission was to train and improve their flight skills and code the drones to fly autonomously through various obstacle courses, culminating with the remote-controlled rescue of an astronaut stranded on an asteroid.  The hands-on experience began in NFC’s Morris G. Steen Jr. Science Learning Center led by Dr. Guenter Maresch, NFC Physics, Astronomy & Mathematics Instructor, Physical and Biological Sciences Department Chair, Lura Murfee, Project Coordinator for the NSF STEM SEALs Camp, Dr. Chris Bacot, Professor of Biology, and fourteen area educators. The teachers worked extensively with the NFC team throughout the year to create and prepare the camp.

“While it may have looked like all fun and play, campers were guided through a rigorous program, while they learned about remotely operated vehicles,” said Dr. Maresch. “The work included science, mathematics, and technology. The students were highly engaged throughout the week because they knew at the end they would compete individually or in teams against each other with the devices they made and the knowledge and skills they acquired.”

On Saturday, July 16, students participated in a STEM competition event with the enthusiasm of a football game in the Colin P. Kelly Fitness and Wellness Center. Parents, grandparents, and students cheered on the final competition, which included obstacle course races and elimination strategy games.

Autonomous Competition Events: These events showcased the student’s ability to create, understand, and utilize code to program the drone to run autonomously.

Earth to Mars:

1st: Boone Riley / Lafayette County

2nd: Riley Sanborn / Columbia County

To Mars and Back:

1st: Ashton Hart / Lafayette County

2nd: Colt King / Madison County

Asteroid Mission:

1st: JG Livermore / Hamilton County

2nd: Karan Komuroji / Leon County

Orbit the Asteroid:

1st: Mae McNeill / Jefferson County

2nd: Benjamin Faglie / Jefferson County

Remote-controlled Events: These events showcased the student’s agility when flying the drone with a remote control.

Orbit the Asteroid:

1st: Max Jimenez / Jefferson County

2nd: Colt King / Madison County

Rescue Mission:

1st: Benjamin Faglie / Jefferson County

2nd: Thomas Schautz / Hamilton County

Team Drone Battle:

1st Place Team:

Daylee Lloyd / Taylor County

Skylar Slaughter/ Taylor County

Noah Marier /Suwannee County

Will Borders / Jefferson County

The STEM SEALs Camp is a three-part project funded by the National Science Foundation and supported by Tri-County Electric Cooperative. The purpose of the project is to develop and test methods for improving STEM education for middle school students in rural communities.

“The NFC team works closely with a research group in North Carolina as well as design and review teams, which consist of local middle school teachers who currently teach science, mathematics or technology courses. The work of all of us together culminates in a weeklong Summer Institute.”

The STEM SEALs Camp introduces students to electric motors, sensors, microprocessors, coding, collaboration, problem solving, and critical thinking. Careers in the STEM field include but are not limited to mechanical engineer, computer software engineer, aerospace engineer, robotics engineer, or environmental engineer.

For more information about NFC or the STEM SEALs Program, call 850-973-1660 or email sappl@nfc.edu.


NFC STEM SEALs Summer Camp 2022

Middle school students from local counties participated in this year’s NFC STEM SEALS Summer Camp.