Grant Opens Opportunity for K-12 Teachers To Learn Utility of Drones

Timothy Hawthorne, Ph.D, and his team at Citizen Science GIS in the Department of Sociology have received a $36,000 grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to support the inclusion of two K-12 teachers into their U.S. Pacific Coast eelgrass drone work.

This will supplement the $1.3 million collaborative grant awarded to the UCF team and their collaborators from University of California-Davis, Cornell University and the Smithsonian Institute in 2018 by NSF.

“This is important because we do a lot of outreach with our K-12 programs and we see the excitement that drones bring out of both students and teachers,” said Hawthorne. “Teachers showed interest in being part of our field work, so now we’re able to give them that.”

Two K-12 teachers from the U.S. will join the interdisciplinary team while getting to work and train hands-on in the field. The chosen two will become certified drone pilots and work closely with other scientists from participating universities, as well as the Smithsonian Institute.

“We hope that by training teachers in the use of drones for science we can help to inspire the next generation of thinkers,” said Hawthorne. “I believe this is a great way to spark some excitement in the classrooms when it’s time to go face-to-face again.”

Teachers will gain the chance to learn skills both in the field and in the classroom that can be applied to future lesson plans.

“We’re interested to see how the teachers that join us will apply the drones and their newfound skills to their own elementary, middle or high school,” said Hawthorne.

A financial package that includes drone kits for the classroom, all travel expenses and a paid stipend will be available upon acceptance. The application goes live on June 1 and is available to K-12 teachers nationwide.

“This has been a challenging time for educators,” said Hawthorne. “UCF is excited to work with teachers and to help them foster the passion in their own students for the sciences.”

Interested K-12 teachers can apply for the opportunity with Citizen Science GIS at UCF beginning June 1 at

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