New drones landing in Waterbury schools to boost student learning

New Haven

WATERBURY, Conn. (WTNH) — Get ready for some special arrivals when Waterbury students return to school August 30.

Drones will drop in to help a new STEM program take off.

“It’s actually like a vision come true,” said Waterbury Superintendent Dr. Verna Ruffin. “We’ve long wanted to introduce drones and drone technology and make the connections so that it can be relevant to students. What they need to learn and how to connect math and science to project-based learning to real live technology that they get to see.”

The district has gone into a partnership with a company called Milestone C. Representatives met with Waterbury teachers today at Crosby High School as they trained teachers in the technology that uses robotics, engineering and fun to catch kids’ attention and get them interested in learning.

“Students build the robot, they do 3-D modeling, coding, both syntax coding and block programming, and they do a design challenge where they add a robotic arm,” said David Conelias, CEO and Founder of Milestone C. “Technology runs their life. We have robots. Our cars are robots. Our phones are robots. Robotics is everywhere around us.”

“What this will eventually do is give our students a competitive advantage upon graduation that they can get into one of these STEM fields,” said Michael Merati, Supervisor of Career and Technical Education for Waterbury Public Schools. “All these courses with drones and engineering and software development, they’re all careers which lead to high-wage, high-skill, and high-demand careers. So, we’re setting students up for success.”

News 8 caught up with one of the drone technology teachers who is learning the new curriculum so he can teach it to his students. He told News 8 last year was tough on teachers with the pandemic causing many students to learn from home remotely. But, Joe Perusse is excited that all of his kids will be back in-person this school year — especially with this new curriculum greeting them.

“I’m really happy and I hope everything stays where the kids can actually be in the same building working as a team during these courses,” Perusse said.

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