Challenge is a three-day camp in June



Gulf District Schools has a new challenge for students who will be high school freshmen or sophomores come fall.

Try a hand at unmanned drones.

The district, in partnership with Gulf Coast State College, the Panhandle Area Education Consortium and Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, will offer a STEM Summer Challenge in unmanned systems in June.

The three-day Summer Challenge will be open to approximately 60 Gulf and Franklin county students June 5-7, with each session held 9 a.m. until 3 p.m. CT daily.

The college and Embry-Riddle will provide the faculty while district teachers will be supervising and the district will provide transportation.

There is no cost to students to attend the Summer Challenge.

“This is an important opportunity for our students because unmanned or autonomous systems are gaining in sophistication, use is expanding and the demand for new systems and operators is growing,” detailed a news release from PAEC.

“Annually, the potential financial impact totals in the billions of dollars across military, commercial, personal and technology sectors.”

In short strokes, unmanned systems can go where humans can not and perform in a more timely and efficient manner.

Employing cameras, sensors and computing capabilities, unmanned systems sense and navigate challenging terrain and provide information to allow human operators to understand the environment and put in action processes to achieve a variety of missions, from examining farm crops to innovative shots for movies, mapping areas and getting closer to the action for more accurate news reports.

“Unmanned systems are also making their way onto roadways and in use to deliver packages, inspect bridges and oil platforms, for search and rescue missions, to monitor drug trafficking across borders, to conduct weather and environmental research, in disaster relief, firefighting and by the military,” according to the PAEC news release.

Another example noted: the 1,218 drones that presented a light show as part of the opening ceremonies of the 2018 Winter Olympics.

The event set a Guinness World Record for the most unmanned aerial vehicles airborne at the same time.

Superintendent of Gulf County Schools Jim Norton encouraged students with a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) aptitidue to take advantage of the Summer Challenge as an “excellent, fun summer learning opportunity.”

Registration forms for the Summer Challenge are available from Lana Harrison at Wewahitchka Jr./Sr. High School and Kim McFarland at Port St. Joe Jr./Sr. High School.