As part of our NSF & Smithsonian Drone mapping project, we aim to build mutually rewarding partnerships with K-12 STEAM teachers in the summer of 2021 and the 2020-2021 school year to transfer teachers’ experiences in cutting edge field-based research with drones to bring K-12 educational lessons and content into their classrooms.


We are searching in the U.S. for two K-12 STEAM teachers to join our team beginning in late Fall 2020, to include fieldwork in summer 2021, and follow-up classroom work in 2021 school year! The application link for K-12 in-service teachers can be found in our Google Form at RET K-12 In-Service Teacher Application Form.

For K-12 in-service teachers applying to the RET Site, a 2-page personal statement should include: 1) a description of education and teaching interests, including how the drone fieldwork fits into these interests and 2) a discussion of how you and your students might benefit from lessons and data created in the program. Potential candidates may be contacted for a follow-up video interview within one month of the priority application deadline.

Beginning in late Fall 2020, teachers will be trained with our drone training materials for eelgrass mapping, including drone flying, image processing and analysis, and FAA part 107 regulations. Pending travel guidelines during COVID-19, teachers will join us in summer 2021 fieldwork. We will work with teachers step-by-step to develop drone mapping and field research skills that can then be included in their classrooms in the 2021-2022 school year.

Any questions to the application can be directed to. Dr. Timothy Hawthorne, or Dr. Bo Yang,

Funding Support for RET Participants:

All U.S. K-12 teachers are eligible, and we have a priority to support teachers from schools with high rate of reduced/free lunches, high percentage of minorities, and/or Title 1 designation. Preference is given to teachers from high-need school districts.

Teachers will receive a generous financial package from NSF and UCF as part of this work.

  • All fieldwork travel expenses covered and a $5600 stipend for participating in the 7 week summer 2021 fieldwork experience.
  • If teachers agree to incorporate the data and fieldwork into K-12 lessons in their classrooms, they will also receive the following:
    • An additional $2500 stipend for spring 2021 to work on training and planning for incorporation of lessons and data into their classrooms.
    • An additional $2500 stipend for fall 2021 to work on continued incorporation of lessons and data into their classrooms.
    • Classroom drone kits to support continued engagement with their students, including 1 DJI Mavic Mini fly more combo pack and 3 DJI Tello education packs.
    • Teachers will also receive $2000 for travel support to co-present findings at a professional conference, such as Ocean Sciences, National Science Teachers Association, Esri Education, or National Council for Geographic Education in 2021-2022.

Teachers will also be invited to complete the following as part of their additional stipend for the 2021-2022 school year.

  • Co-author STEAM education articles with our team for submission to high impact education-focused journals.
  • Share their experiences and lesson plans at a 2021-2022 UCF Citizen Science GIS teacher workshop to stimulate interest in the work with other U.S. teachers and networks.
  • Co-author blog posts for our Citizen Science GIS website and social media channels and to a short education and technology series in Directions Magazine (a leading geospatial technology industry online publication).

In addition, we have ongoing collaborations with Esri Education (the world’s largest GIS company) that will enhance the collaboration. With both partners, we support teacher research activities, including free access to Esri ArcGIS Online, Drone2Map and drone mapping training modules, and Esri. These resources are available to our teachers through our partnership and technical support is provided by the Citizen Science GIS at UCF team.

More details about last summer’s fieldwork are below. Similar locations will occur in 2021.

Note: this project was originally planned for summer 2020, but plans were modified due to COVID-19.

See below for the vlog (edit by Michael Feinman) of the field trip, follow us on Linkedin, Twitter, and Facebook for #citizensciencegis.

Field Work Video