Record 1,379 Children Attend College for Kids

A record 1,379 children attended College for Kids this year.Donald Feathers knew a drone would not be the easiest thing to maneuver.

That speed, though. That caught him off guard.

“I had no idea these drones could go so fast,” said Feathers, a ninth-grade student at General McLane High School. “It’s pretty fun, and it’s different, too.”

Feathers and more than 20 other 12- to 14-year-olds held controllers, pushing buttons rapidly as Dromida KODU Quadcopters zipped through Erie Hall. As the copters buzzed around, they recorded video and took photographs.

These were not perfect flights. Some drones hit walls. One got stuck in the ceiling.

But all-star pilots are not made overnight.

“There have been so many new things I’ve learned, and we’ve done some cool things,” Feathers said. “Some of my recordings are really cool. I might even post some of them to YouTube.”

The “Introduction to RC Quadcopters and Aerial Photography” class was one of more than 103 College for Kids courses held at Penn State Behrend this summer. This year marked the 23rd year for the summer enrichment program, and it was the largest yet: A total of 1,379 children between the ages of 6 and 16 participated.

The quadcopters course was about more than just learning how to operate a drone. Participants also filmed videos and photos during their flights. They then edited the footage they shot using Adobe Premiere, an industry-standard software program for video editing.

“It’s a STEM activity,” said Brian DeVore, a technology education teacher at James S. Wilson Middle School who taught the course. “We try to cover all of the different things you can get into with the big drones, but on a small scale. We even pull up the Federal Aviation Administration’s website and go over the rules associated with drone use.”

Caleb Woodworth, a seventh-grade student at Bethel Christian School, really enjoyed the time spent using Adobe Premiere.

“I’ve liked it all,” Woodworth said. “We learned how to operate and program a drone, but my favorite part has been the digital editing. This class sounded interesting, but it’s been even better (than I expected).”