RHS Students Present UAV Drone Project Findings

The Redmond High School UAV Drone Project has come to a close for the school year with many lessons under the team’s belt.  This dedicated group of students and teachers received grant funding from Diack Ecological Foundation and the Deschutes Children’s Forest to purchase an unaided aerial vehicle to conduct ecological surveillance and restoration.
Over the course of this school year, students have been utilizing the UAV to survey ecological systems in Redmond’s dry canyon,Cline Buttes Recreation Area in Redmond and Whychus Creek sites in Sisters.  The students partnered with the City of Redmond, the Bureau of Land Management, the Sisters Ranger District and the Upper Deschutes Watershed Council.

By using biology and STEM concepts, the students were able to collect data that will help determine plant growth, canopy coverage, water flow and overall changes to an environment over time.  Students surveyed the regions by mapping it on foot and hand documenting the status of the floodplains.  They then utilized the UAV to photodocument the same regions by air to provide the agencies with a “snapshot in time,” of the floodplain.  Once all assessments were completed, the students provided a report of their findings and suggested activities to further preserve and restore the areas.

RHS teachers Becky Barrett and Ryan Beard have been instrumental in organizing and supporting students in their findings.  Both have spent countless hours before and after school to make this fun, experiential project a reality for students.

During their presentation, students detailed lessons learned and the challenges of using such new technology to their partner agencies.  Although UAV drones have been around for some time, very few agencies or individuals in the region have used them to photodocument ecological systems.  The students ran into difficulties “stitching” together the thousands of photos they took using the UAV’s digital camera.  The software that is used to stitch photos together for agricultural surveying is incredibly expensive and requires thorough training.  Thankfully, Becky Barrett contacted Paradigm Software in Bend, who offered to provide their services to the students so that they could finish their project.  Mark Chambers, GIS Analyst from Public Works with the City of Redmond, has also been very helpful in helping pilot data mapping with Arc GIS software.

The project has inspired many students to continue their work with UAV devices.  Several hope to continue their research next school year.  In addition, one student is in the process of creating his own drone, utilizing the CTE manufacturing program to 3D print parts for the unit.

As a result of the UAV project, the Ecodrone Crew of students and staff have been invited to present at 2 different statewide conferences:

Oregon Youth Summit – Honoring Oregon Youth Environmental Service

RHS Ecodrone students have been invited by Diack Ecological Board of Directors to share their environmental research with other teachers and students from around Oregon and with Dr. Jane Goodall. The summit will take place on Thursday, October 15, 2015, from 10:00 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. at David Douglas High School in Portland.

Oregon Science Teachers Association Statewide Annual Conference

RHS Ecodrone & staff will be presenting their UAV projects and demonstrating UAV use in one of the sessions during the conference held October 16-18 at COCC.

Many thanks are due to both Becky Barrett and Ryan Beard for their persistence and dedication to this experiential learning project for RHS students.  We are proud of their efforts to bring state-of-the-art STEM projects that educate our students while preserving natural habitats in our community.