The best drones for education make for a fun and engaging way to help teach students, not only about physical construction, but about coding.
As part of a STEM learning project it's possible to use a build-you-own drone kit to allow even younger students to make their own flying machine. While that in itself is a rewarding task, the end result can be used to educate further.
Many coding platforms now work with drones, allowing students to write code that dictates what the drone will do. This helps to bridge the virtual and real worlds to make coding a far more understandable resource for students.
The use cases continue, with cameras on drones ideal for shooting school promo videos, art projects, and more. There's also drone racing, for the competitive students, which is great for hand-eye coordination and is an exciting and freeing possibility for students who might otherwise struggle with mobility.
So which are the best drones for education? Here are the very best options, each clearly labelled with its special skill to suit your needs.
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1. Robolink CoDrone Lite Educational: Best drones for education top pick
The Robolink CoDrone Lite Educational drone and Pro models are available as stand-alone or as bundles for schools. In either case, these allow students to learn how to physically build the drone as well as how to program it.
Programming is done via an Arduino coding environment, or can be done using Python in the CoDrone Lite setup. The system helps students learn to code with blocking coding in Snap, text-based coding in Python, and coding in Blockly.
The drone itself is small and light, and features auto hovering, infrared sensors for educational games, and a barometer sensor to assist with altitude control. The limited eight-minute flight time isn't ideal, nor the max 160-foot range – but since this is more about building and tinkering than flying, these limits aren't a problem.
2. Ryze DJI Tello EDU: The best camera drone for coding
The Ryze DJI Tello EDU is the result of a team-up between Ryze Robotics and the king of drone manufacturers, DJI. The result is an impressively specced drone for the price, complete with 720p, 30fps camera onboard, object recognition, auto take off and landing, and a failsafe protection system.
You get lots of coding options here with Scratch, Python, and Swift all available. This model also can work with other drones of the same type for a swarm mode so all can "dance" together. Mission pads offer uses as take-off and landing zones. This unit also offers a better-than-most 13 minutes worth of flight time. Plus, you can add a Special Development Kit (SDK) for lots of creative tinkering – ideal for curious and eager bright minds.
3. Sky Viper e1700: Best affordable educational drone
The Sky Viper e1700 is a stunt drone that can be built from its basic parts and programmed to perform tricks. The fact this also flies at up to 25 mph is another feature that helps to make it a lot of fun while remaining educational.
This unit is great for hand-eye coordination as it not only has the usual auto hover flight mode, but features pure manual, which requires a decent amount of skill, concentration, and patience to master. Despite the low price, it comes with lots of parts, including spares, which are great if the unit is going to get a lot of beginner pilots trying to control it manually.
4. Parrot Mambo Fly: Best educational drone for coding options
The Parrot Mambo Fly is a very compelling drone option as it's made by a well-known drone manufacturer and is modular. This means students can build different drones based on what is attached, from a high-quality 60 fps camera to a cannon or grabber system. While that flexibility creates many options for real-world uses, the programming side is also impressive.
5. Makeblock Airblock: Best modular educational drone
The Makeblock Airblock is a modular drone that consists of one core master unit and six other modules that can be easily attached magnetically. It is designed and built by a STEM learning specialist and, as such, features comprehensive learning options. The Airblock comes with a dedicated mBlock 5 programming platform that features block-based and text-based coding.
The Neuron app, which this comes with, is flow-based programming software that allows students to integrate this drone's actions with other devices such as artificial intelligence or Internet of Things smart gadgets. All that makes for a very creative and comprehensive learning experience from what is a well-priced drone.
6. BetaFpv FPV Cetus RTF Kit: Best for racing
The BetaFpv FPV Cetus RTF Kit is a great option for students who enjoy gaming. This includes a VR headset that allows the drone to be flown in a first person view, as if you are onboard during a flight. A super immersive experience that's lots of fun and teaches hand-eye coordination in a unique way.
The battery could be longer with a limited 5-minute flight time, except for the price this gets you FPV hobbyist kit without the usual outlay. You can even play a flying simulator game, using the controller, while the drone itself charges. The addition of an optical flow hover sensor is rare in these sorts of models, which is nice to see and makes this easy and safe to use.