Future pilots showing off their mini-drone skills.
Virtual reality drone flights through the Indian River Lagoon.

When the Citizen Science GIS team arrived at Otronicon last weekend, there was no shortage of eagerness and excitement for our Maps, Apps, and Drones Tour. Students and parents from K-12 schools participated in activities that ultimately encouraged them to think critically, ask questions, and engage in science and technology hands on! Every corner of the room was filled with technology for students to experiment with. Ranging from two drone stations, mapping activities that help improve sustainability in schools, and virtual reality goggles with real-life drone footage from the Indian River Lagoon. However, it was the students that brought the technology to life! Drones were flown, mapping data was inputted, and students used VR headsets to learn about the state of the lagoon. “How does this relate to science?” a curious parent asked. It was a perfect question to relay the importance of STEM education and the mission of Citizen Science GIS. These activities help churn the wheels of creativity and curiosity which are invaluable tools that the future problem solvers of the world can have. Empowering students to use their knowledge and input to find unique solutions for real-life issues is an extraordinary feeling. Students shape the future! When the last drone landed and conversations ended, it was time to pack up the gear and say our “thank you’s” and “goodbyes” to Otronicon. The day had come to an end but the future of science has never looked brighter.

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