Episode # 30

Drones and Tech in the Media Center

February 16, 2023

About This Episode

Guy Frye has been teaching for 15 years and he is currently a Media Specialist on the Eastside of Cincinnati. From Dash Bots to Drones, he enjoys helping students use technology in new ways, especially to solve engineering challenges. He also uses those experiences to help students understand the real-world applications of new technologies and the jobs of tomorrow. Guy enjoys going on adventures with his wife and their two boys.


Close-up portrait of Guy Frye

Guy Frye

Guy has been teaching for 15 years. He is currently a Media Specialist on the Eastside of Cincinnati. He enjoys going on adventures with his wife and their two boys. 


[00:00:47] Kara: Joining us today is Guy Fry, who is a K through six media specialist. Thanks for joining us today.

[00:00:54] Caryn: We’re excited to talk to you about some of the cool things you’ve got going on. Mm-hmm. . But before we get to it can you just tell us a little bit about what led you to your current. Status and education .

[00:01:07] Guy: Yeah, of course.

So I come from a long line of educators one of those families where everybody’s always had the summers off and kind of done the teaching thing. So I followed in everybody’s footsteps. Started off teaching in Kentucky, second grade, moved to fifth grade. Somewhere in there. Got my administrator’s license, but still haven’t really done anything with it.

Maybe about 10 years ago, an opening came up at a new elementary school and it was a technology opening. So, you know, we used to have those old technology computer labs. So I ran that for a couple years, K five. My family’s all in Ohio, so eventually six years ago I jumped to the river into this role at a K through six building.

We’ve got about just under 700 kids I believe this year, and it’s a media specialist. So it’s the media class, media slash library. As part of the unified arts rotation, kids come to me for 45 minutes a week. And it’s just a fantastic role for me

when they hired me, Uhhuh , they were looking for. Hands-on. They were looking for STEM and computer science. And makerspace, we evolved and created a whole new makerspace when I got here which was really exciting. So I was able to kind of create it and, um, form it and mold it into what they were looking for into what I really enjoy doing.

So I’ve been here for six years and have been so happy because I feel like I’ve been able to really create and build kind of the vision that we had for it. And it, it’s just so fun. The kids really enjoy it. And it’s just it’s very engaging.

[00:02:40] Kara: Yeah, it sounds like it. What are some of the things that you are doing in your media space?

[00:02:46] Guy: So the media, the media space , I, I’ve really tried to make it hands on since Covid tried to stay a little bit away from that technology.

So, ah and, and when I say technology right now, I just mean the Chromebook screens. Mm-hmm. um, try to make sure that we’re using them in ways that kids are engaged. For example, this week we’re doing some. World Cup themed activities . So kids are using their Chromebooks, but they’re using them to connect through Bluetooth to our dash robots to create an algorithm where they have to create a penalty shot.

and they have a soccer ball and then dash tries to score a goal on the other dash robot, which has an algorithm programmed into it to try and be the goalie. So the last couple years since Covid really just tried to think of some hands on things where kids aren’t just seeing the screen move, but they’re, they’re seeing a product they’re seeing.

Kind of manipulative in front of them. That’s actually changing. Last week we had an engineering challenge where students had to build a tower on top of a soccer ball, so Oh, wow. Yeah. A little different, a little different than your normal build your tallest tower, because now all of a sudden they’re dealing with a rounded surface.

So . Yeah, kind of, my gosh. Makes ’em think a little bit differently. But, you know, collaboratively thinking on their toes. Most everything I do is group-based, so, you know, they’re always always having to communicate. Work through their problems.

[00:04:14] Kara: Yeah, which is great. And on that topic, I just am curious, do you have any tips or anything for educators on that group piece and how to, you know, promote ,

good collaboration where you have those students that maybe are hesitant to get involved, or you have the leaders who wanna mm-hmm. just do it all themselves, or do you, how do you manage that aspect of things? I,

[00:04:40] Guy: I try to prepare for those issues beforehand. Okay, so when we did the engineering challenge last week, we’ll do one about once every couple of weeks.

I’ll get all the materials. So, you know, by December students have had four or five big engineering challenges on the spot. Come into my class, take your risks, see what happens. Nobody’s gonna get upset if it doesn’t stay up. So we’ve kind of set those expectations. Mm-hmm. , right? That the only ones who fail are the ones that are just gonna give up and watch the other groups.

So we set that off the bat, but we do talk about grade level appropriate expectations. Okay. You know, first grade, second grade, how do you compromise? What happens if your idea doesn’t get picked? What if you both have a good idea? How do you combine your strengths? So we spend a couple minutes before each.

building time. Each challenge just kinda picking something that we’re gonna work on, you know, some kind of quality, one of those what are they soft skills they call ’em Yes. Mm-hmm. . So everything kind of has a little bit of a purpose and then that grows and grows, and then it grows from year to year to year.

So now my sixth graders who have been doing these engineering challenges since they were in first. , you know, you, you see a big difference. You, you, you see a lot of good communication. You see a lot of you see less red faces, less frustration, so Yeah.

[00:06:01] Kara: Which that’s, that is one of the beauties I guess about too, having them year after year.

Mm-hmm. is they’re building that skillset and they know kind of what your expectations are year to year to year.

[00:06:13] Guy: I mean, the kids just, they’re so into it and you find that you a lot of times you lose some of those behavior issues when kids are fully engaged and excited about something like that.

a couple of times in the past I’ve had classes where you have some students who are over. . Mm-hmm. And we will talk a little more about roles then, you know, maybe we’ll have the gopher and we’ll have the secretary and you know, kind of all those things where everyone to make sure that everybody is a part of it and somebody’s just not taken, taken over.

[00:06:47] Kara: Those skills are gonna help them for longer than just their school years. You use drones? Yes.

[00:06:54] Guy: Yeah, I do. Yeah.

[00:06:55] Kara: Okay. Can you just talk a little bit about how that got started and Yeah.

What you do with

[00:07:02] Caryn: drones? Yeah, of course.

[00:07:03] Guy: A couple years ago they said that like 80% of, and I’m just gonna make something up cause I don’t know what the actual number was, but it was like, yeah, 60% or 80% of the jobs that our kids in elementary school um, will have, have not been invented yet.

Mm-hmm. , you know that one, so. Mm-hmm. , I’ve always really taken that and just, I absolutely love that. . I love that little statistic or fact or whatever. And I have used drones as kind of the future ready futurology portion of Oh, okay. The elementary school, kind of of my curriculum. We’ve done different things.

The first year I was here, we district wide introduced an innovation day where, , it was a little bit different for each school, but our school chose, we were really kind of into the futurology stuff, the self-driving cars, you know, this was 2017, so the Tesla was kind of new. I, I was new to my role, so, you know, I had kids who could show off the robots and, you know, the dash and the Spheros, and I think I still had Ozobots then, that kind of stuff.

And then drones was always, People were very interested in. So my first year or two, we just kind of used it to showcase some of the technology and kind of the ever-changing world. As the years went on, I started to focus that into, I try and keep my units under a month long just with snow days and stuff.

So this was a three week unit called the Drone Zone. And every two or three years I’ll. With my fourth through sixth graders. Okay. And it has some drone research. How are drones being used? We will look at some videos that are super engaging. Like they have the firefighter drones now. Oh yeah. And the lifeguard drones who can fly out into the ocean and drop an inflatable.


[00:08:51] Kara: That’s awesome. Yeah, that is. I’ve seen those. I haven’t either.

[00:08:55] Guy: I mean, if, if, if you start looking into drone use and future drone use as soon, and this is what we tell the kids as soon as they figure out how to extend the battery life, they are going to be everywhere. They’re just going to be everywhere.

There is a use in every industry. We talk about farming. And how drones can be used. One year we had a parent come in who had a drone company that they had started and their, he came and spoke to the students, came and flew his drones, and he worked in security for. offsite oil drilling machines like in the ocean.

Oh, wow. Right. So you’ve got like those offsite, I don’t know what they’re called in the water, like the oil drilling rigs. Yeah, yeah. And they were having, you know, these oil companies were hiring security to be out there just to observe. Oh,

[00:09:51] Kara: it was just


[00:09:52] Guy: Just to monitor, yeah. And they were, you know, taking the boat out, taking the boat back or the helicopter or whatever it was.

So he used, he purchased these drones and somehow got in touch and it was to solve the battery issue. It was tethered to a battery, so it was always powered on, and it just kind of flew above the oil rig and just kind of monitored. .

[00:10:14] Kara: That is interesting. Yeah, yeah, yeah. Like you wouldn’t, yeah, if you wouldn’t think about that, like needing some sort of security or mm-hmm.

you know, monitoring device for something like that, but yeah. Yeah. It makes total, total sense.

[00:10:29] Guy: So he came out and had his drones. We took him outside. He was doing an AER. Pictures of the school and showing everybody and was really into it. Funny story. He actually came we’ve got a little airport near our school on the east side of Cincinnati, and he came out and was doing his Drone taking footage of the school for our principal.

And he came in and he goes, oh, I forgot. He said, I just got a message through like the FAA or whatever, cuz he was fully registered as a drone pilot that that was the day Trump was flying in. Oh. So Air Force one was getting ready to come over and he got some kind of alert on his phone or something.

He said, I probably shouldn’t do this cuz they’ve got the, all the monitoring .

[00:11:11] Caryn: Oh my gosh.

[00:11:12] Guy: But we do. , all kinds of stuff. We let the kids explore, they dive in on their own. The big one for us that really brought it home to kids about how drones could be used was the ring camera security system. Oh, yeah.

Oh, I think it was last Christmas. They have a new security system where if somebody rings your doorbell or you press a button on the app on your phone, it’s actually a drone camera that will then fly all through your house and it can monitor. You don’t have to. Extra cameras. You just have, there’s a drone in your home that kind of just flies around.

So that was the one where I think it really clicked with kids that it was going to be something that. , they might see, they might actually see these types of stuff.

[00:11:56] Caryn: Yeah. Something in their own lives.

[00:11:57] Guy: Yeah. Yeah. So, I mean, it’s all really awesome and fun. We take that futurology and then we talk about some of the negative uses. we’ll, we’ll just kind of breach with the older students, the intermediate kids, just kind of how it’s used in the military and how it can be used for surveillance. But then we also talk about things like, how could it just be annoying? Like what if it was just advertising

You know, what if. Which will happen, you know their will when they solve that battery. you’re gonna have the drones in the grocery store that are gonna be at in the grocery store parking lot or the Walmart parking lot that are just gonna be, yeah, we’re gonna have this awesome new technology and it’s gonna tell you ground beefs on sale or something.

[00:12:33] Caryn: Yeah. I feel like there’s something like that. And back to the future. . Yeah,

[00:12:37] Guy: probably. He’s like

[00:12:38] Caryn: walking around and there’s like these things coming up at him trying to advertise. Yeah. No. Mm-hmm. that’ll for sure happen. .

[00:12:44] Guy: Yeah, definitely.

[00:12:45] Kara: Yeah. And it will be

[00:12:47] Guy: annoying . Oh definitely. Oh my God. But somebody will make a bunch of money off of it.

Uhhuh. . Yep. So yeah, all that stuff the drone light shows are kind of popping up now. It’s kind of replacing fireworks in other countries. I think Asia now is all just these huge drone shows. You see it at the opening ceremonies for the Olympics and stuff.


[00:13:06] Kara: yeah. I was gonna ask if they did any, if the kids did anything like that with the lights. Cuz I’m always impressed with the programming and the coordination Oh yeah. Of all. Those drone shows

[00:13:17] Guy: our, no, our drones talking about battery life, our drones, I use the parrot rolling spider. And it’s called the Parrot Rolling Spider cuz it’s got these big bumpers on the side of it, which kind of prevent it from causing too much damage when it runs into the walls, which happens all the time,

But I can’t imagine the parrot has now gone out of business or not out of business, but they’re not selling those smaller drones anymore. They’re kind of into the more. Couple hundred dollars, the more professional ones for photography and stuff like that. I think my drones, when I started buying ’em, were probably only 60 or 70 bucks a piece.

Yeah. Oh, so

[00:13:53] Kara: not

[00:13:54] Guy: bad. Reasonable? Not bad. No. I, I think now they’re, I think you can get ’em for around 90. Okay. When I was browsing before this, I, I looked to see what the cost was. It’s right around a hundred dollars for a drone.

[00:14:06] Kara: Which, I mean, still. .

[00:14:07] Caryn: It’s not inaccessible. Yeah, yeah,

[00:14:09] Guy: yeah. It’s not bad.

Yeah, it’s not bad. So a grand or something for a thousand dollars, all of a sudden you got 10 drones in your classroom. That’s pretty awesome. But the yeah, which we, you can’t do too much with them because, you know, they’re kind of fit in the palm of your hand. Kind of what you’d see at the kiosk at the mall runs on an app, but the battery life is only, eh, eight to nine minutes.

[00:14:30] Caryn: Oh, wow. Oh yeah. That’s a, that’s a big battery life problem.

[00:14:34] Guy: Oh yeah, that’s as, that’s about as much as you can get. Well, the batteries, the batteries can’t weigh too much cuz it’s gotta be up in the air. Okay.

[00:14:40] Caryn: Oh yeah. Right. Makes sense.

[00:14:42] Guy: Mm-hmm. . Yep. So that’s, that’s why they keep saying, and I keep saying it’s all, as soon as we build a better battery, that’s when this technology is gonna blow up.

I saw recently a hundred thousand jobs in unmanned aircrafts will be open. They’ll be vacant and left vacant by 2025. . Wow. And that’s still, that’s still knowing that there’s a battery issue. But as soon as they make a smaller, lighter battery, that’s when, I mean, it’s just gonna be an ex exponential growth.


[00:15:12] Kara: So the challenges and stuff, do you do a lot of them indoors?

[00:15:16] Guy: Depending on the weather we tend to, okay. The last couple years we go out back and I’ll grab some hula hoops and stands and we’ll kind of put up some drone racing courses. Oh, fun. And just kinda let the kids go around in an open area without trees or the school roof.

Yeah. so they can kinda, yeah, and we talk safety and we do all that stuff. I’ve done it inside a couple times part of my drone zone project was we try and connect it to real life. So we pretend that we’re part of the United Nations and we’re doing supply drops, but we kind of throw the old riddle in.

One drop has to go here on one side, but then two can’t be left alone together. You know the old riddle where it’s like the man, the fox, the chicken and the seeds or something like that where they have to figure out that little brain teaser. So we do something like that where it’s a supply drop and you’ve gotta fly over the bookcase and then you hand the iPad to the next person and then they, they pilot it over just trying to make any connection.

We. .

[00:16:16] Kara: Yeah. I like that. Not only the real world connection, but I like the transition of not one student being like the dedicated pilot. Mm-hmm. , like you’re relying on everybody’s skill.

[00:16:28] Guy: Yeah. Yeah. Everyone, everyone gets a chance to it. So it makes it fair cuz everybody’s really eager to fly the drones. Yeah.

That’s cool. My, the drones I bought they were all remote. Downloaded it on the app on my iPads. So they just kind of have the little joystick on the iPads, but they’re making them now. There’s a company called robo Link, and I, I’m sure there’s more now, but they have the drones that’s drag and drop programming.

So not only do you have the drones for your classroom, but there’s programming. So that’s that. That’ll be my next purchase. That’ll be my next purchase. Cause my drones are man, they’re beat up.

[00:17:09] Kara: Well, they’re beat up. Yeah. Do, do you make the kids go through some sort of like training or Like completion before they’re allowed Pilot to pilot’s license.

Yeah. .

[00:17:19] Guy: That’s exactly what we do. Yeah. We called it last year, we called it our you had to get your pilot’s license and that was all just me. Slowly learning over the years what kind of stuff pops up. Cuz it’s kind of uncharted territory to let kids all of a sudden start flying things in your classroom.

Mm-hmm. . So you don’t you, the first year or two, you don’t even know what in the world to. . \ You don’t even know what kind, you can kind of assume what’s gonna happen, but I mean, things pop up, batteries go out. Somebody kind of gets in a disagreement, all of a sudden you lose two minutes of battery.

What happens when you’re flying and all of a sudden the H V A C turns on and now you’ve got a draft seven feet up in the air? I mean, , ah, yeah. All kinds of little things tend to pop up, but I have never had. . I’ve never had an issue really. I, well, another funny story. I had group of girls and part of our, one of our innovation days, they wanted to create a lesson to share with another class about drone use and how to use the drones at our school for some of the younger kids.

So they would come into the media center during lunch and I’d kind of sit in the corner and eat and answer my emails. I went out in the hallway to fill up my water bottle and came back in and the girls were just kind of had their eyes big and they were just kind of looking at me and I was like, what what happened?

And one of the girls turned her head, and that drone was just right all in her

[00:18:37] Caryn: hair, in her hair. Oh, oh my God. No. .

[00:18:41] Guy: Sixth grade girl. And I just, my eyes got big and it was actually really easy for it to come out. It didn’t Oh, it didn’t buzz. Yeah. We didn’t have to cut it out or. Smeared peanut butter. Oh my gosh.

It just kinda came out. , she’s a senior now and I just saw her again. She had come to school for something and she said, do you remember that one time at lunch? And I went, how could I forget? The drone flew in your hair. I, yeah. How could I forget that? Yeah. Oh my

[00:19:06] Caryn: gosh. How honey? The

[00:19:08] Kara: only time

[00:19:08] Guy: it’s ever happened.

Yep. That, that’s it. I mean, yeah. The kids, when they get, they know they’re about to fly a drone. . Mm-hmm. . And the last thing they wanna do is lose that opportunity at school. Yeah. No,

[00:19:20] Kara: I can imagine. So

[00:19:21] Guy: it kind of keeps everybody on their best.

What’s the

[00:19:24] Kara: criteria for them receiving their pilot’s license?

[00:19:28] Guy: We go through drone care.

Okay. Expectations of our classroom. Okay. Always noise level for me, I’m in a, I’m in one of those media centers where I don’t really have walls, and there’s about oh four classrooms and six offices that overlook my. Oh wow. Yeah, so a lot of times the excitement, we gotta bring it down. Yeah. So we have to talk a little bit about that.

How to handle the drones, how to connect them through Bluetooth to your iPad, how to fly ’em, land soft landings, what to do, emergency procedures, which is nice cuz they all have like a button of landing button. You just land it. Yeah. Yeah. Just kind of, we do about, it’s probably about 15 minutes.

[00:20:07] Caryn: Oh, okay.

Yeah, it’s not


[00:20:08] Guy: much because I, I only see kids once a week, so I gotta,

[00:20:11] Caryn: we gotta be official. Right? You can’t dedicate multiple

[00:20:14] Kara: Yeah. Well, in 45 minutes, this goes really quick. Yeah, it

[00:20:17] Caryn: does.

[00:20:18] Guy: Yeah. And then, you know, carry over with kids. , you know? Yeah. Seven days later. That’s a lifetime. Yeah. Yeah. That’s a lifetime.

So yeah, we get try and get the actual flying and the pilot’s license is all done in one day. Well, that’s awesome.

So I, I’ve done in the past couple years, a three week unit. Unit one is just kinda. an introduction. It’s student led research. I’ll throw a couple drone types up on the board. I’ll throw a couple uses for drones, and then I’ll just kind of let them go on their own. Okay. Mm-hmm. just kind of doing some self-guided research.

And then I’ve got some Google forms that have them watch those videos of like the firefighter drones or the personal security drones, or the farmer drones and how, you know, for the farmer drones, , they can, the drones will fly over the field. Mm-hmm. , and they’ll just have a camera on them. But then the camera is monitoring plant size, plant color, plant health, soil moisture, all those things.

[00:21:18] Kara: I never even thought about that before, but like my uncle’s a farmer and mm-hmm.

sure enough, that’s exactly what he does. He uses his drone to monitor crops and Yeah. And I never even thought about that before, but I’m like, oh my gosh, how smart you can monitor acres and acres of land in half the time. Yeah. Time’s

[00:21:37] Caryn: so valuable. .

[00:21:39] Kara: So, and then check on problem areas where they know, like, you know, there’s consistent flooding or Yeah. I didn’t even think about it because I’m not a farmer.

[00:21:48] Guy: Mm-hmm. . So the drone is just kinda carrying the actual computer tech that’s doing the, doing the real work.

Kids always have interest in that in the future. Yeah. Aspect of it. And you know, of course the kids want to know, can a person fly in a drone? Will the drones, will there be uber drones?

Oh, oh, why not? You know, that all comes down to that battery and the power of yeah, the power of lift Amazon in is doing some drone packaging stuff where they’re delivering drones. I’ve seen that. Yeah, well they, I think they started in England and London. They must have, outside of London, they must have less guidelines

cuz in the United States, the FAA is really strict. It’s, it’s very, your airspace is very strict and important. So I think in Europe it might be a little less regulated because I’ve, I’ve seen things where dominoes delivers pizzas in some areas by, Can you imagine

[00:22:44] Caryn: that? Oh, interesting.

My gosh. You know, it’s great to talk about drone. That’s what

[00:22:48] Guy: I wanna know. It’s great to talk about with kids, because you know what happens when you’re

[00:22:52] Caryn: cats in the backyard? Yeah,

[00:22:54] Guy: right. what happens if somebody doesn’t want the drone flying over their house? Like all these, all these questions were just our, our kids are gonna probably be the ones answering those questions.

[00:23:05] Caryn: Do you think that there’s any like, connection between kids that play video games and an affinity to these drones? Like are some of those skills that they’re acquiring, playing video games and manipulating characters with a controller and things like that, do those transfer at.

[00:23:24] Guy: Yeah. And you, you are working in that 3D environment, right? Right. Yeah. So that’s one of the cool things too about my class is, we’ll, we’ll throw some Minecraft computers out sometimes. Okay. And the kids are building in that 3D world, which is awesome. Yeah. But then when you then incorporate drones, then you’re really in that 3D world, right?

That real life kind of perceptions and eye tracking and motor movements. So yeah, I, I think it definitely, definitely comes into play.

[00:23:53] Kara: Yeah, it’s, I didn’t even think about that. Yeah, because I guess too, like, do you do 3D printing too in the meetings?

[00:24:00] Guy: I do a little bit of 3D printing. I have a 3D printer.

Because I just

[00:24:04] Kara: wondered, I mean, I guess that’s kind of a similar, just on the design aspect of designing a 3D environment like Minecraft and

[00:24:12] Guy: Yeah. Mm-hmm. using Tinkercad, of

[00:24:14] Caryn: course. Yeah. Yes. Yeah.

[00:24:16] Kara: yeah. Awesome. Thanks so much for talking to

[00:24:17] Guy: us. Oh yeah. Thanks for having me.