SHEFFIELD, Mass. - The Mount Everett Middle School aerial drone team is preparing for the East Regional Championship on May 19 and 20.

“Going for first place,” said team member Zayre Traill.

“There'll be 60 schools up and down the East Coast coming to West Virginia to see who's the best,” said Chris Thompson, the team mentor.

What You Need To Know

  • The Mount Everett Regional Aerial Drone Team is going to the East Regional Championship at Fairmont State University in West Virginia after a win in the Southern New England Regional Championship a few weeks ago
  • The team has 4 members: Zayre Traill, Wyatt Alden, Nico Bruno and Tonia Maynard. Southern Berkshire Regional School District technology director Chris Thompson is the team mentor

  • They will compete against more than 60 middle and high school teams. Mount Everett Regional is listed as "Eagle One" on the competition team list.

  • Mount Everett Regional School is located in Sheffield, MA

Thompson said there’s multiple parts to the skills competition and awards will be given in nine different categories. When the referees say “go”, the drones take off, and the first task is to move ping pong balls using the downdraft of the drone.

“It's kind of like ping pong soccer played by drones, but there's 60 balls on the field and four drones," Thompson said. "It's quite chaotic.”

The difficulty rises with the "Blackout Zone," where Traill said communication is key. The pilot navigates through hoops, but a curtain blocks their view of the landing zone.

"And then you just give them basic hand signals," Traill said as he directed a drone to the landing pad.

Points are earned here with clean landings. Traill said the group has found success in working together.

“It's basically just a whole lot of teamwork," he said. "I mean, if everyone doesn't work together in a very tight knit group, the entire operation just falls down. So, a lot of teamwork has to be put in play.”

“The way these technology competitions work, you get kids that are interested in STEM technology things," Thompson said. "So, they have a likeness, they have a sort of a bond there”

The team has four members who are always learning about drone technology and fine tuning their skills. Thompson said through representing their school and community, the kids are building confidence and having a great time.

“When they have success like this, it really proves to them that they know they can do things in life," Thompson said. "They can put their mind at something and accomplish great things.”

“The whole group is very tight knit and it's actually very fun to be around," Traill said. "All I can really say is it's actually just pretty fun to be in and it's really special.”