For the past few years, alliantgroup has had a great partnership with the Houston Independent School District (HISD) and has supported many of their initiatives. Through this partnership, I have had the pleasure to personally get involved and be part of the Houston ISD Foundation Board since the spring of 2019. Since joining, I have learned more about the needs and obstacles that the 215,000 students from HISD are currently facing and it is my honor to be able to assist in the process of coming up with solutions to these obstacles.
The Houston ISD Foundation has given HISD schools the opportunity to apply for a special grant called the Innovation Grant. This grant enables teachers and schools to implement innovative learning opportunities in the classroom. For the second year in a row, alliantgroup, whose main philanthropic mission is to support STEM education, awarded a $7,000 grant to fund the Booker T. Washington High School’s Drone Aerogame during the Houston ISD Foundation’s annual signature event called Public Education Matters.
Booker T. Washington High School’s engineering teacher, Dr. Le and his students are very passionate about drones, so they created a fun and interactive game called Aerogame. The concept and rules for this game were first developed by thirteen students in the Practicum class in October 2019. The students tested the 3-on-3 game using the Tello drones. Subsequently, the Aerogame was then incorporated as competitive team event.
As the game gained popularity, around thirty students at Booker T. Washington High School and other schools participated and practiced playing the game as part of afterschool activities. In February 2020, Booker T. Washington High School hosted the Drone Aerogame Project Competition at their campus and the top two schools at the competition were Northside High school and St. John’s High School.
In March of 2020, all schools were closed as the result of COVID-19 pandemic. Classes were held on-line and during this time, students continued to work to re-evaluate the game and to modify it to be a faster game with four players on each team. Students also added a new event, the Unmanned Aquatic – Air Vehicle (UA-AV) where a participating team must build a remote vehicle that can navigate around obstacles on water and in the air to complete its mission. Both the newly modified Aerogame and the UA-AV are parts of the 2021 Drone Competition to be held at Booker T. Washington High School in February 20, 2021.
Booker T. Washington High School continued with remote learning at the beginning of the 2020-2021 new school year. However, with the grant they received from alliantgroup, they were able to prepare for the Sounding Drone Project. The Sound Drone Project requires students to work in teams to research, design and build prototypes containing sensors to acquire altitude data from the ground level up to an altitude of around 350 feet above ground. Each team will collect data using drones that have the capacity of carrying a payload of around 2 pounds. The data is then analyzed and presented at the completion of the project.
Dr. Le and his students are happy to report that all preparations for the Sounding Drone Project were completed at the beginning of October 2020 and they are ready to implement the Sound Drone Project by the end of October 2020 when students are back to face-to-face learning. Everyone at Booker T. Washington High School is excited to see students work on hands-on project once again.