HUNTINGTON, W.Va. (WBOY) – The Robert C. Byrd Institute (RCBI) and support from the NASA West Virginia Space Grant Consortium, are accepting applications for drone giveaways.

The institute is giving away 17 “CoDrone EDU Kits” to groups of students who agree to form aerial robotics teams and compete in competitions within the area. The hope is that these competitions become a gateway to get students to learn about teamwork, partnership, communication, and keeping an engineering notebook in addition to drones and robots.

The drones are codable, programmable, have sensors, and can pick up color. Participating students learn how to code and program through hands-on STEM projects, but they also learn life skills.

Deacon Stone, Director of Center for Innovation & Maker Vault, said “competitive robotics is an opportunity to continue tapping that fly-wheel, to get kids up to speed, and keep them up to speed. With their peers, learning, in a collaborative environment, where they learn the most important things. Communication, ways to organize information and data, the importance of testing and trialing things that you’re doing, over and over again.”

Groups or teams can include two to six members, but if you already have one and are planning to split into two different groups, you can still apply. However, the Institute is looking for new forming groups to compete. They are also hopeful that parents do not mind to make the trips with these students to competitions.

RCBI is hoping to bring these robots into classrooms and educational programs to make an impact and continue to expose young students to programming, coding, and navigating the world in a new way.

For over five years, RCBI has been giving away robotic platforms, in which they try to giveaway something different or needed every year. Stone mentioned that some years, robotic platforms will upgrade their hardware, so the Institute, Robotics Alliance, and Space Grant Consortium try to help with providing some of the expensive hardware. This year just happened to be drones.

Applications will be taken until all drones have decided homes, which RCBI is hopes is by the end of October.

The 2022 West Virginia Makes Festival will begin on Nov. 4 at the Huntington Campus of Marshall University from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. It is an annual celebration of creativity and ingenuity in all forms. Students can go and show off their innovations, inventions or other creative endeavors and compete for prizes, including cash. More information can be found here.