RICHMOND — If passersby noticed B. Michael Caudill Middle School on Wednesday afternoon, they may have seen what looked like youngsters playing with toy helicopters.
But in fact, this group of campers was learning about, and preparing for, possible careers in science, technology, engineering or math (STEM).
About 20 middle schoolers, representing nearly every school in the county, were testing their quad-copter navigating skills during the United Way of the Bluegrass/Verizon STEM camp.
Using Blade 180 QX quad-copters (with detachable cameras), propelled by four blades, and weighing a mere 95 grams and costing nearly $200 each, campers carefully maneuvered around cones and markers situated on the school’s soccer field.
Campers learned how to use a controller that on the left side operates the copter’s throttle (up and down) and rudder (pivot). The right side of the controller operates the copter’s elevator (forward or backward) and aileron (slide left to right).
Campers have been learning all week about how to use the devices and how to compensate for wind conditions, but also what different industries are using quad-copters.
The devices are used to inspect buildings, “instead of sending a worker on top of a roof,” said Vito Sabino, 12. Bridges can be inspected this way, too.
Police also use quad-copters with attached heat sensors to detect illegal activities in attics or on rooftops, said 12-year-old Kobe Mosley.
The quad-copters can be used for wedding photography, which is “less distracting” than a photographer, said Martha Lowe, 11.
The miniature aircraft can be used for other types of aerial photography to create advertisements for tourist attractions, historic monuments and various destinations, said other campers.
Some campers compared the quad-copters to the Beetle tool used by Link in the popular Nintendo video game “The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword.” Link uses the tool to scout areas and retrieve out-of-reach items.