Game on – STAG Pleasant Grove aerial drone team shines on national stage


Being a member of the aerial drone team at School for Talented and Gifted at Pleasant Grove is more than the opportunity to fly an aircraft – it’s a chance to meet new people.

“I think the most rewarding part of joining the team is connections. I’ve been able to learn about new people and talk with them about the drone competitions and more,” said Jacob H., member of the drone team.

His teammate, Estrella P., agreed.

“We meet people from all around the area and are able to make alliances and share our thoughts and ideas,” she said.

A staple at STAG Pleasant Grove for two years, the campus organized the aerial drone team after they saw how popular their STEM activities – VEX v5 and VEX IQ were.

“We had a limit for the VEX program and a high interest for the program so we decided to try something new with our students,” said Michael Douthit, instructor of the aerial drone team.

Opportunities like these offer a well-rounded experience for students who want to enter a career in tech, he added.

“Programs of this nature and the competitions that come along with it not only teach students coding and flight skills but also several soft skills including how to communicate verbally and in written form, problem-solving, critical thinking, leadership skills, and teamwork,” Douthit said.

This year, the Pleasant Grove STAG drone team competed in the regional championship in Tulsa, Okla., where they competed against students from across the region, including New Mexico and Oklahoma.

Pleasant Grove STAG placed first and second in the skills categories and received the Excellence, Skills and Judges awards.

“Being able to compete is a fun, yet stressful experience. But it brings knowledge and allows you to work on skills like teamwork and communication,” said Fátima M., another member of the team.

Aerial drone competitions feature four categories – autonomous skills, piloting skills, teamwork, and pilot log/ interview.

For the autonomous and piloting skills portions, students either program or fly the drones to complete an obstacle course and rack up points. For the teamwork component, students work as a team to create alliances with other competing teams to complete a goal. During the pilot log/ interview section, students are tested on interview skills, team communication and how well they document their strategies, challenges and successes.

Jose M., a member of the drone team, said competing on the big stage brought up a range of mixed emotions. But he is proud of what his team accomplished.

“The experience was exhilarating because we got to travel and compete against other teams from around the country. It was very exciting and nerve-racking,” he said.

The Pleasant Grove STAG drone team is just one of many opportunities Dallas ISD students have to pursue their interest in drones and robotics. To view the programs and extracurricular activities offered at your school, visit the Computer Science and Technology website.     


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