Washington Evening Journal
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Washington, IA 52353
Fairfield High School to start drone soccer program
FAIRFIELD — The Fairfield High School is getting a drone soccer team next fall.
Fairfield Schools’ Technology Director John Grunwald said that the district had raised enough money from donations to afford equipment to purchase five drones and a mobile arena in which to the play the sport. Drone soccer involves the use of small drones to play a game between two teams that have five drones each. A drone is a device that uses four vertical propellers to hover in the air like a helicopter.
Grunwald said the game the drones play is perhaps more like the game Quidditch from the Harry Potter books because the goals are suspended in the air. Of a team’s five drones, one of the drones has special markings to indicate it can score a goal, and the purpose of the goal is to steer the scoring drone through the goal. The other drones attempt to clear a path for the scoring drone by knocking the opponent’s drones out of the way, and by blocking the opponent’s scoring drone from reaching its goal.
Grunwald said the district was able to raise $12,000 from 13 individuals and businesses to start this drone soccer program at FHS. He said drone soccer is a very new sport, and was brought to America from East Asia about three years ago. Colorado was the first state to host drone soccer competitions in 2020, and the U.S. national competition began the following year.
The idea of creating a drone soccer team at FHS has been more than a year in the making. Grunwald said he spoke with FHS industrial arts teacher Meshari Alnouri about a drone soccer club, and the two of them talked it over with David Carlson in Burlington, who is a member of the Burlington STEM board. They met for a couple of weekends where they completed drone pilot training and coursework.
The group set up a drone soccer demonstration for FHS Principal Aiddy Phomvisay at the high school, who Grunwald said is behind the project 100 percent.
Now that the idea for a drone soccer club has backing from the school and the money has been raised, Grunwald and Alnouri will purchase the equipment this summer so it will be ready for students when they return in the fall. Grunwald said the drones won’t just be for the drone soccer club. Alnouri plans to incorporate drones into his industrial arts classes, too.
Students who use the drones will be required to go through a training course to ensure they know how to handle the drones responsibly. Grunwald said there are rules that govern the use of drones outdoors, such as not flying them within a certain distance from an airport, and only flying them below a certain elevation.
Grunwald said he sees nothing but positives coming from the use of drones at the high school. Students will learn how to repair these machines, and how to tinker with their parts, such as making modifications to the motor, propellers or the sensitivity of the controls. He said this will give them a good background in programming, too.
More and more occupations are finding a use for drones. Grunwald mentioned that Realtors are using them to take photos of their properties. Law enforcement agencies are using them to look for missing persons. Farmers are using them to check on the condition of their crops.
“We’re very excited to get this up and going,” Grunwald said.
Those who wish to learn more about drone soccer or who wish to contribute toward the program can contact Grunwald at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Call Andy Hallman at 641-575-0135 or email him at email@example.com