AQA, a U.K.-based provider of exams and academic qualifications, is planning to bring drones into new advanced-level (A-level) environmental science courses for secondary school students.
AQA plans to include education on monitoring and managing the environment, such as on how to deploy drones to monitor crop pests and track wildlife poachers; use satellite surveys to monitor water resources and search for new mineral reserves; and use GPS to track wildlife such as whales, sharks and migrating birds.
The courses will put an emphasis on sustainability and reflect important current issues such as global climate change, marine wildlife conservation, future mineral supplies, future energy supplies (wind, solar and nuclear power), and fracking for gas.
According to AQA, the courses will help students develop vital skills for environmentalists, including collecting and analyzing information, spotting gaps in our knowledge, planning further studies and drawing conclusions based on the facts. AQA says these are also vital skills for any future higher education course or career path.
The plans have been submitted to Office of Qualifications and Examinations Regulation for accreditation. The courses will be available to teach starting in September 2017.
“Climate change, diminishing resources and failing energy security are amongst the most critical issues facing the world today,” explains Richard Genn, AQA’s lead developer for A-level environmental science. “Planet Earth didn’t come with a user guide, so it’s vital that we equip the current generation of students with the right knowledge and skills so they understand the impact that decisions we make now will have on future generations.
“Environmental Science is a rapidly developing subject, and technology plays a crucial role. This new course is designed to be relevant and topical so that new issues can be studied as soon as they emerge; what is on the news today could be studied in the classroom tomorrow.”