CITRIS at UC Merced outreach team teaches kids to fly drones

Drone flying in front of Peter Sou.

A team of UC Merced engineering students brought hands-on lessons on drones and robotics to hundreds of children and families on March 19 at the Tri-Valley Innovation Fair in Pleasanton.

“Drones and robots are a gateway, a spark for young people to explore STEM,” said Leigh Bernacchi, program director of CITRIS at UC Merced, who led the students in the all-day demonstrations at the March 19 fair.

With UC Merced’s Mobile Maker Lab as headquarters, the CITRIS team taught young people to write simple programs in introductory Python to make drones fly a pattern. At a second station, attendees maneuvered driving robots adorned with UC Merced pennants through a short course.

The Mobile Maker Lab — Mobi — was supported by the UC Merced Foundation Board of Trustees, Joseph Gallo Farms and HP to help faculty and students bring science lessons to area schools and community events.

Photo Credit: UC Merced Newsroom. Peter Sou helps a student program a drone to fly at the Tri Valley Innovation Fair.