So, you’re trying to find the best drones for kids to use in schools? or at home? And you’re curious about the educational value of drones.
Great! Because drones, or unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), are projected to reach 2.5 million units in the United States this year.
On this page, you’ll find lots of basic information about drones and how they’ve been used in educational settings. This information will hopefully get you started on your quest to learn about drones before (or even after) purchasing one.
You’ll also find information and some recommendations for what we consider the best drones for kids.
Best Drones for Kids
Best Drones for Kids Overall
Syma X5C ( Available on Amazon for $32.99)
|Size||16.5 x 12.2 x 3.8"|
|Flight Time||7 minutes|
|Charge Time||100 minutes (USB charging)|
The Syma X5C drone packs a lot of punch for a reasonable price. In addition the HD 720 photo and video camera, it includes 2 GB micro SD card. It also features an LED lighting system and 6-axis gyro stabilization.
Moreover, Syma is a well-known hobbyist company that provides information in the instruction manual on how to easily acquire replacement parts.
While the Syma X5C would not be considered a top-of-the-line drone, it is one of the best drones for kids due to its relatively inexpensive price tag, easy maneuverability, and built-in camera.
Best Drones for Kids Under $50
Syma X12s (Available on Amazon for $17.95)
|Flight Time||4-5 minutes|
|Charge Time||40 minutes|
The X12s is Syma’s microscale quadcopter and is priced competitively to encourage kids and hobbyists to buy. If you are unsure if your kids or students will enjoy drones, then this is a good model to begin with. At it’s low price point, you really have very little to lose.
Despite its low price and small size, the Syma X12S is able to withstand minor crashes without damage. It also retains the maneuverability of larger Syma drones. Additionally, it has a headless mode that will enable beginner drone users to control the drone without regard to orientation.
Holy Stone HS170 Mini Quadcopter (Available on Amazon for$39.99)
|Flight Time||8 minutes|
|Charge Time||70 minutes|
Some may view the Holy Stone HS170’s small size as a limitation, but it gives the drone enough handling capacity to be flown both inside and outside.
One reasons the HS170 is featured as one of the two best drones for kids under $50 is that it offers the option to adjust the drone’s responsiveness based on the pilot’s skill level. As your new pilot gains experience, the sensitivity can be increased to allow for more nimble movement.
Important Notes for Parents and Teachers
- The best drones for kids to begin with are inexpensive, indoor-only drones first before moving to a more expensive, outdoor-flying model.
- Most people–adults and kids–do not immediately learn how to fly drones. It takes practice on their part, and lots of PATIENCE on yours.
- In line with needing lots of practice, you should plan to spend lots of time with your beginner drone pilot. Help them learn the basics. During this time, keep the drone close to the ground and practice moving the the vehicle side-to-side or front-and-back.
- Independent play is not recommended until they have at least basic to intermediate understanding of how to maneuver the drone.
- Inevitably, the drone will crash or need replacement parts for other reasons. Drones should not be considered one-time purchases. Like many hobbies, they require an ongoing budget.
- You can try adding foam protectors to the drone to absorb some of the damage when it crashes.
- Drone flying simulators are also available. For example, The Drone Racing League. You can also find another simulator at http://www.realflight.com/drone/
Drone Features to Consider Before Buying
- Camera – Though not required, cameras definitely add to the enjoyment and learning. And in some cases, video feeds can be delivered to smart phones or tablets.
- Flight Time – Common consumer drones can have flight times that vary from 5 minutes to 60 minutes. However, anything over 30 minutes will be relatively expensive and should not be a considered a beginner drone. Most beginner drones will have flight times between 5 to 10 minutes.
- Charging Time – The charging time describes how long it takes for the battery to fully charge.
- Controlling Distance – Controlling distance dictates the radius from which the drone can fly from the pilot.
Basic Drone Safety and Guidelines
Selecting the best drone for kids is as much about understanding the safety rules and limitations of the drone as it is about the performance of the drone.
Some basic guidelines to keep in mind with drones:
- Any drone over 0.55 pounds must be registered with the government
- Avoid public areas (i.e., no flying over people or vehicles)
- Avoid flying within 5 miles of an airport
- Must keep drone within line of sight, or you can use a spotter
- Check local laws regarding privacy
- Avoid flying drones in high winds or foggy areas
Best Places to Fly Drones
We recommend using the map created by the people over at Know Before You Fly (scroll to bottom).
Additionally, indoor drones can obviously be flown in your home (just be careful and allow a wide margin of error). And outdoor drones can be flown in any open space with few people.
- Hot glue gun or super glue (yes, you may need to reattach parts when your drone crashes)
- Wire strippers and cutters
- Extra batteries
- Soldering iron (you can check out our soldering iron guide for more information)
Drones and Learning
Research shows that students learn best through hands-on lessons and projects. Drones extend that concept by allowing students to be in absolute control of the learning object. A well-designed drone lesson can be both interactive and introduce practical knowledge about real-life situations.
Drones in the Classroom
It is understandable that teachers may be concerned about spending money on drones. Once the novelty and initial spark of interest wears off, you still need to be able to justify purchasing them by using them to enhance learning.
If you’re concerned about legal implications, you can stick with indoor drones which have much less regulation associated with them.
Indoor obstacle course and students must program the drone to navigate. Students will inevitably fail but they can study their code and the tangible results (i.e., the drone flying and mis-flying through the obstacle course). This leads to iterative learning as they adjust their code and re-observe the drone.
Potential Skills (STEM and non-STEM)
Programming – Students and kids can use visual programming tools like Tickle to program drones to follow designate patterns. In addition to basic coding, children will develop important skills such as computational and logical thinking. The Tickle app is a visual programming tool similar to Scratch. It can be used to program drones to fly in designated patterns. You can find a free lesson plan that incorporates the Tickle app here.
Meteorology – Drone piloting requires a basic understanding of weather. As knowledge increases, new pilots will learn to understand wind direction and recognize when storm clouds are rolling in (i.e., when it is time to ground the drone).
Photography and Film – What better way to use the on-drone camera than to help kids learn how to edit videos and understand the finer details of photography.
Science – Drones can be outfitted with measurement tools like barometers or thermometers
Physical Education – Drones offer a great way to provide a birds-eye view of action on the field so students can review how they played.
Know Before You Fly (direct link to recreational users section)
Drones in Education – Drones in Education is written for teachers who are interested in adding drones to their curriculum but who are unsure where to begin. It includes lesson plans, real-world applications, and tips to help you get started.
Drones Take Off – Drones Take Off is a short resource developed by Scholastic that introduces instructors to drones. Additionally, it has a lesson plan designed around drones.