We’re happy to announce that we have awarded our final EdTech grant of 2020 to Mary Bonnetty, an elementary teacher from Honolulu, Hawaii! Mary teaches at the Queen Ka’ahumanu Elementary School and has made a huge impact on the STEM offerings her students get to experience whether learning in-person or remotely.

Mary teaches a lot of STEM and technology lessons to her elementary students and sees educational drones as tools to help create multidisciplinary experiences. With help from this grant money, she’ll be able to take her lessons to new heights – literally! As we enter a new year, we’re excited to be able to provide Mary and her students with some new Tello EDU drones and can’t wait to see how they’re able to use them as they transcend online and mainstream learning.

tello edu drone with launch pads and propellor accessories

Using the drones we provide to her, Mary is planning to create a strong connection between technology, STEM concepts, and social-emotional learning for her students. Since the Tello EDU drones are programmable, she’s also planning to focus on helping students develop additional coding skills and put their problem-based learning approaches to the test as well. Having done a lot of research on the connection between technology and SEL (with drones specifically), Mary believes bringing this technology into mainstream learning environments can help create more authentic experiences for her students and boost their academic and social development.

In Hawaii, leaders of the Hawaii Dept. of Education have outlined a ‘Sense of Excellence’ as it pertains to every student’s development. Mary believes that using these drones in STEM projects with her students will contribute to them getting much closer to this goal. She also wants to help students learn more about the various landscapes found all around Hawaii, including Manoa Falls, The Dwellings, and Kalo – something they can potentially learn to do as they get more skilled at piloting the Tello drones. For social-emotional connections, she also plans on incorporating how the Hawaiian people emphasize the relationship between nature and people as they explore it more deeply from above.

Beyond that, Mary wants to promote the benefits of student collaboration – something she believes will be amplified as they begin learning with drone technology. By working together and establishing these connections, she believes her students will build stronger social-emotional foundations, begin fostering growth mindsets, and think more critically when it comes to problem solving and decision making. With all of the possibilities drones create in the real world, this definitely seems like a great way to bring together all of these elements of 21st century learning.

To that end, Mary plans on using the Tello EDU Small Classroom Kit to help students highlight geospatial thinking and also in support with the QKS Virtual Reality Technology and Minecraft Education Field Trip Simulations Project. We’re also going to include access to the DroneBlocks platform so Mary and her students can learn about programming the Tello EDU with this digital professional development content!

block program created for the tello edu drone

Mary has a lot of expectations for this project and for good reason. Besides helping her students develop new coding skills, she also wants to maximize the drone technology and help them see how they can be used to create authentic media projects. Part of the plan includes using drones for photography and video capture. She also plans on having students record short videos of each other discussing what they learned as part of the project. Since there are now many uses of drone technology, incorporating the coding, photography, piloting, and videography are all fantastic ways to maximize the Tello EDU! Mary also plans on capturing some data of her own, most notably how the technology drives critical thinking and problem solving in her students when they’re faced with solving real-world challenges.

We extend our congratulations for Mary for being selected as our final grant recipient of 2020 and thank her for the thoughtful application and all the amazing work she does with her students. If you could benefit from additional STEAM tools in your remote, hybrid, or in-person instruction, we encourage you to apply for our monthly grant in the new year. If you have any questions about eligibility or the application, feel free to contact our team and be sure to follow us on Instagram and Twitter for more.