Friday, February 2 saw a very special event unfold at Divine Mercy Catholic Academy in Merritt Island: Space Day! Several educators from around Florida engaged over 90 students from 4th through 8th grade through hands-on participatory learning exercises. Several members of the Citizen Science GIS team were in attendance at the event running the exciting Maps, Apps, and Drones Tour. The day was filled with space focused activities for students to learn about the wonders of science through aeronautical applications. Some of our neighbors’ activities in nearby areas included learning about our solar system while making sundials and launching handmade rockets high into the sky!

Nicholas Altizer, Tori Atterbury, and Amber Rutstein showcased the work being done by Citizen Science GIS both in Florida and Belize through a hands-on mini-drone demonstration. Students at Divine Mercy Catholic Academy not only had the opportunity to learn about the amazing applications of drones and GIS in community-based settings, but they also got to try their hand at taking one of our Parrot Mambo mini-drones for a spin. Each student had the task of launching the drone, flying over a model town to collect new imagery, and safely landing the drone at the designated landing site. To say the students were naturals would be an understatement. Each student was successful in their flight and the excitement with each landing only grew.

Nick and Tori teach students about the applications of drones and GIS through Citizen Science GIS.

A post-flight follow-up questionnaire tested student knowledge on some of the topics discussed while also providing them an opportunity to reflect on the exercise. When asked how they might use drones for science, one student stated, “I would use a drone to see the changes happening over time on land forms.” Students identified also identified drones flying under clouds, taking clearer pictures, and being used for community projects as some of the learning outcomes from the activity.

Amber assists a student with flying the Parrot Mambo mini-drone.

Divine Mercy Catholic Academy was just one of the many schools on the Maps, Apps, and Drones tour agenda this semester. If you are involved with a K-12 school in Florida and would like the Citizen Science GIS team to conduct this workshop on your campus, please consider contacting us to see how we can visit your school for this exciting, hands-on science and technology event. Contact us at if you would like your school to be one of our next stops!

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