Blessed Sacrament Catholic School Starts Student Drone Club

March 22, 2024

Student building droneUIW’s Brainpower Connection partner schools are creating new opportunities for San Antonio Catholic school students! Blessed Sacrament Catholic School recently formed a Drone Club in which student members can build drones using computer coding with the hopes of making them operational.

The school recently received a federally funded grant that allowed them to redevelop instructional plans and to support learning loss recovery due to the challenges faced during the COVID-19 pandemic. A portion of these funds were dedicated to STEM enrichment, which resulted in the formation of the Drone Club.

Sara Martinez, instructional coach at Blessed Sacrament, reached out to a local organization called Loco Robo that offers modern STEM, Computer Science (CS), and Career Technical Education (CTE) curriculum and Ed-Tech tools to K-12 classrooms for students to utilize. The organization provided the school with the learning materials and supplies necessary for students to familiarize themselves with the skills, knowledge and equipment required to effectively build drones.

Students in grades sixth through eighth submitted applications hoping to receive one of the ten available spots in the Drone Club based on their academic performance, classroom conduct and the level of commitment they expressed.

“They definitely have to have a level of tenacity,” expressed Martinez. She recognizes that the club’s material is challenging for students and at times this can leave students feeling frustrated, but she never doubts their capabilities. She along with other Blessed Sacrament faculty help to provide guidance and encouragement throughout the program so that students always feel a sense of support despite the challenges.

“This is something that is going to be part of the workforce now,” shared Michael Fierro, principal of Blessed Sacrament, about the growing use of and reliance on new technological advancements such as drones, AI and more. “We as a school have a responsibility to help kids who may be oriented in this career path to at least have some exposure to it.”

When the club initially began, students started off by learning how drones are present with society and their various functions, understanding technical vocabulary and recognizing mechanical parts. Now as students have begun to build drones together in trios, Martinez and Fierro have noticed students developing additional skills such as creativity, collaboration and communication.

“One kid will watch the video, another other one does the script (code for the drone) and then there's one that's putting together the pieces. They kind of alternate and it works really well for them,” noted Martinez.

Within the past few weeks, students have made consistent progress in developing their drones. When the groups of three finish the development, the school will hold a competition to test how effectively the drones can fly. At the end of the school year, all data collected during the program will be sent to Loco Robo to be compared to results submitted from other schools utilizing the program. Based on the those results, students could receive rewards for their work.

“I believe the ability to create something is for anybody,” expressed Martinez. “It's amazing to give the kids that amazement and understanding of what society has available so they know what's happening in the future. It’s a good outlook for students especially if that's something that they're interested in pursuing later in life.”

As the principal of Blessed Sacrament, Fierro is proud of the school for offering such a unique program that creates expansive opportunities for students and is grateful to the faculty members who help to make it a reality.

“We have the opportunity as a Catholic institution to help our students tap into their God given talents,” shared Fierro. I think a lot of times there are messy discussions between science and religion. We provide an environment where science and religion can coexist for students to know and embrace both.”