It is fulfilling to be one of the coaches of an Aerial Drone Competition team. It may sound like a really hard task to do but Robotics Education & Competition (REC) Foundation will help you get through it by providing you with tools and resources you would need to succeed.
Starting a Team
Basically, there’s no limit in the number of participants on a competition team. If you have a lot of students interested in participating, you may want to consider having multiple teams. No additional team registration fee if you already have four (4) Aerial Drone Competition teams in the same school or organization. You can grow your team up to more than 23 teams. But remember that the average team size should only be between 3 and 5 students. If you don’t have a co-pilot and visual observer to assist in navigating the field, your team will be at disadvantage at competitions so make sure to take note of that.
Your team should learn and practice concepts like programming, flight principles, communication and documentation so be sure to get help from mentors who can help students increase their knowledge and skills about those things. Parents can also support by emailing them the article How Can Parents Help?. You may also refer to these links to get more details on what mentors can help you with: RECF Student-Centered Policy and the article What Does an Aerial Drones Competition Coach Do?
At least 1 drone is needed per Aerial Drone Competition Team. The two drones below are the approved drones for 2022-2023 competition season.
- CoDrone EDU
- Parrot Mambo (out of stock)
Access to an internet-connected computer or device is needed to utilize the online curriculum and programming resources.
Competition Field to be used in this season can be reused each so it would be ideal to have that at the very start. It will help you practice better like in a real drone arena. You may purchase one at Drone Competition Gates.
For the Game Elements, you have an option to either purchase them or create your own mocked up copies. Each season, a new set of unique Game Elements is being released. You may grab yours at Drone Competition Gates.
A new registration is required for each competition season so don’t forget to register first before anything else. Follow the guidelines from this article so you won’t get lost: Registering an Aerial Drones Competition Team
Setting up a meeting schedule with your team based on what your needs are would be advisable to fully equipped for the competition. Stick to your objectives! You may want to meet not more than 2 hours for younger students while others can meet more often. You will definitely benefit from the time and effort you put into the program. Meeting more frequently can help you better prepare for the competition.
First meeting should be listing goals and fixing a timeline to meet those goals. Make sure that someone is keeping track of it so you are on schedule and you’ll see the progress and things that need to be looked into further. Time management should always be taken into consideration.
Practice makes perfect is what people normally say. And yes, I would say that giving time for practice helps a lot to process things. Setting up a space with obstacle courses to practice flying drones is normally done by teams. You may use your own materials to set up one but it would be more comfortable and advantageous for the team if they practice using a full or partial Aerial Drone Competition Field which can fit in a gymnasium, cafeteria or even large classroom. And it’s common to practice a set of teams to practice on a field simultaneously up to 4 teams.
In order to fully maximize the team members you have, each must be assigned a role. You may rotate roles so all members of the team can learn and experience the full program. Based on the student’s interests, skills and needs must be the key factor when assigning a role. You may opt for assigning or letting the students choose. Don’t limit anyone in one role if they can perform multiple roles which is quite common. Multiple students can even share a role. Have a backup too in case of an emergency like sickness or schedule conflict so you won’t get in trouble. See the list below of the common Aerial Drone Team Roles:
- Drone Pilots
- Drone Co-pilots
- Visual Observers
- Competition Logbook Documenter
- Team Scout
- Online Challenge competitors
There are a lot of ways to develop your team. Be as unique as possible. Each member of your team has its own creativity so get the most out of it. Let them choose your team name, have a cheer or song, design a team shirt, create some displays for your pit space, etc. This way, your team will be more engaged and excited. The more you get them engaged, the more they will be eager to accomplish things and work harder as a team. You may also draw the attention of other students and even potential supporters to help mold your team’s drone program to its full potential.
Joining some competitions can give your team a chance to execute what they have been working on. It would help them see the things they did well and needs for improvement so you’ll be more prepared when the season starts. Typical competitions include Autonomous Flight matches, Piloting teamwork matches, and interviews for judged awards.