ST. CLOUD - Talahi students had a chance to get outside last week for some hands on learning by flying drones and planting trees around the school.

Students helped with digging holes, watering and carrying the mulch for the trees. Sam Court is the STEM Integrationist at Talahi Community School, he says it was great to see students having fun with a hands-on experience.

"A lot of them have said 'this is so much fun' and they act confused when you tell them that they're learning something too."

The school received a grant for the trees and plants from St. Louis Park based company Tree Trust. John Bowden, also known by some students as "Grandpa John", helped sign off on the trees. Bowden has donated countless hours at the school as a volunteer and mentor to students at the school.

Another group of students learned to fly an unmanned-aerial vehicle. Students were able to control the drone by using a handheld tablet from the ground. The students flew the drone over the tree planting event and took video for a project. Obataye Powell Jr. was part of the group of students flying the drone and says it was a fun way to learn about technology.

"It's very exciting, it's a quadcopter-it can fly, it can flip, it can do so many cool things."

The four-day unmanned-aerial vehicles unit was in partnership with 4H of Sherburne County.

Joseph Rand is with 4H of Sherburne County and worked with the students. He says many schools across the country have seen a huge increase in enrollment in their newest UAV areas of study, it's also a rapidly expanding technology in the global economy.

The hope is to prepare youth for STEM and other opportunities in higher education. Working with unmanned-aerial vehicles also hopes to prepare the students for the next wave of autonomous technological careers in the 21st century.


Excited students fly their drone near Talahi Community School. (Dan DeBaun, WJON)