While adults grapple with the thorny legal issues related to drones, the youngsters who crowded into a meeting room of the Karl Road branch of the Columbus Metropolitan Library on July 12 were of one mind on the subject: These things are awesome!
Nick Lolopulos of the Columbus Idea Foundry and Will Nickley of Safety Third Racing took part in the library's summer reading program to demonstrate drones and give the dozens in their audience a chance to fly one.
Mickie Stiers, who is head of youth services at the Karl Road branch, said she picked the drone demonstration for the summer reading effort.
"We thought our kids would go nuts over drones," Stiers said.
"We try to stagger our offerings so there's something at least one day a week and hit all the age groups."
The demonstration by Lolopulos and Nickley was intended for students ages 12 to 17, but younger ones joined the audience.
"It gets kids excited about technology," said Nickley, whose Safety Third Racing is one of the country's largest community-based drone racing teams.
Flying drones helps young people work on hand-eye coordination and could be a potential career field, Nickley said.
"And it's a lot of fun," he added.
At the Idea Foundry, Lolopulos said, people are able to fly drones while wearing virtual-reality goggles that allow them to see through the vehicle's camera.
"It feels like you're in a drone," he said.
The larger drones can travel at speeds of up to 85 mph, Nickley said.
"Outside," he told the children. "We wouldn't want to do that inside."
When it came time to allow the youngsters to take a turn at operating tiny drones, Nickley has some advice.
"Don't be afraid to fail," he said. "That's how we learn."
Given the number of drones that soon were crashing into the walls, ceiling and other youngsters, a whole lot of learning took place that afternoon.