Tagai Students Get a Taste of Drones
By Katie Vidal
I have taught in a few different schools in my teaching career, but last week I got to travel to one of the most northern parts of Australia, Thursday Island, Torres Strait. The water is blue, the wind is constant and the sun is a whole lot warmer than my home town of Canberra (actually the sun is warmer in most parts of Australia compared to Canberra in winter).
The students from Tagai State College are spread across the Torres Strait, with one student travelling by helicopter from Porum Island (Coconut Island). There were students from as far as Sabai, an island only 8kms south of Papua New Guinea. While primary school students were ferried over from Horn Island each day. Each of these 30 students were challenged to write a piece to explain why they should be chosen to attend this camp. After this experience they were being challenged to take what they had learned and help implement drone clubs back in their own schools, with the support of staff to share their new found skills in manual flight, coding and problem solving.
Fishing plays a big part in their lives and the possibilities with drones has opened their eyes to thinking outside the box as drones provide access to areas that they physically couldn’t get to. At ground level these students left camp with thoughts of food delivery or the videos they could create of their local areas.
But there are already various uses for drones around the Torres Strait. The Yuku Baja Muliku Rangers were the first Indigenous group in Queensland to receive certification from the Civil Aviation Safety Authority to use drones commercially. They observe Archer Point, near Cooktown which was chosen because it is considered a "marine highway" for several endangered species of turtles on their way to Raine Island — one of the largest turtles nesting sites in the world, off the far north Queensland coast.
The Centre for Excellence in Australian Biodiversity and Heritage have been mapping fishtraps in Kaiadilt sea country, in the Gulf of Carpentaria. These manmade structures are the largest built by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders. With the help of software researchers are able to collect topographical data to help them understand just how old they are and how they intereact with the tidal movements.
Through our She Flies camp the students got a taste of the possibilities, that there are careers out there that help them to explore their world. Together with the support from the staff of Tagai College and continued resources from She Flies there has been a spark ignited to keep exploring STEM education and how it can be used in their local communities.