Hartsfield ES students embark on underwater drone project

On the journey to Destination 2035, HISD educators are looking for ways to incorporate innovative lessons in technology-focused core competencies. At Hartsfield Elementary School, students are learning with underwater drones.

The Hartsfield Hunters project in partnership with the Houston Texans YMCA and HISD Foundation provides fifth-graders an opportunity to conduct aquatic research using drones to explore marine biology.

“It’s a wonderful opportunity for our kids when you have organizations and partners to step in and support what we’re doing at the campus level,” said Principal Travis Johnson.

By capturing high-resolution images and videos with underwater drones, also known as remotely operated vehicles, students can collect valuable data to better understand the complex ecosystems that exist underwater.

With a unique approach to learning, the young researchers hope to make meaningful contributions to the understanding of aquatic ecosystems and marine biology.

“Because we are an animal and environmental science magnet school, Principal Johnson came up with this underwater drone project to include a STEM component,” said fifth grade teacher Clifford Lee. “After submitting a proposal to the HISD Foundation, we received a grant for $17,500, which we’re using to fund the project and expand our pond here at our school for students to explore. We contacted the Houston Texans YMCA, which is very close to our school, to see if we can put the drones in their pool so that our students can learn how to fully operate the drones first.”

With the first phase currently underway, students are learning how to apply the scientific method, master essential vocabulary, grasp the fundamentals of oceanography, and increase proficiency in operating underwater drones. These skills will be put into practice during the second phase when they explore their school pond.  

“Students will go out once a week to take pictures and collect data in phase two to see if anything is changing, like the vegetation,” said Lee. “We have fish in the pond, tadpoles, and a few frogs, so they’ll be monitoring the changes to see if it matches their predictions. The third phase is when we’ll go out to Herman Park and possibly the park in Missouri City to do the big observations.”

To stay up to date with The Hartsfield Hunters project and upcoming events, click here.