KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The skies in Kansas City, Missouri, are buzzing with opportunity.
At KC Girls Preparatory Academy, students are taking their studies to new heights.
Oz Qureshi, program director with the nonprofit MINDDRIVE, works to increase that access.
MINDDRIVE has worked with young people for a decade, and five years ago began offering drone training.
“When a student first gets control of the drone, then you can tell they are kind of hooked,” Qureshi said.
Kai Hernandez is a sixth grader at KC Girls Prep learning how to fly drones.
“I’ve never flown a drone before, never in my life,” Hernandez said.
These micro drones fit in the palm of a hand, but are not to be underestimated.
They can be flown up to 20 miles per hour through hoops and obstacles.
Qureshi says pilots use a radio controller to pilot the drone, and with a headset, they fly from the perspective of the drone.
“I love being competitive,” Hernandez said.
Hernandez is part of a group of middle school students at KC Girls Preparatory Academy forming the first all-girls drone racing team.
“I think it’s really cool to be able to have a group that lifts girls up and puts them in positions to where boys would be,” Hernandez said.
Qureshi said MINDDRIVE hopes to give girls opportunities in places where they’re usually outnumbered.
“There are girls that want to do what we do; it’s our job to find them and create a safe space for them,” Qureshi said. “IT, robotics, or drones — yeah it’s male-dominated, and we want to change that.”
Harmonee Edwards, another student at KC Girls Preparatory Academy, is hoping to help other girls feel comfortable in male-dominated spaces.
“Any TV shows with drones in them, they are only boys’ clubs, robotics clubs — only boys,” Edwards said. “It shows that girls aren’t smart enough.”
Hernandez said girls’ voices are often left out.
“Since people don’t usually hear our voices, we’ve been conditioned to stay quiet,” said Hernandez.
Not these girls.
“I picked up on it really quickly,” Edwards said. “It’s more motivation to just prove them wrong more, motivation to be like, ‘I got this.’”
They see the potential in droning, from art, videos, gaming and nature — a perspective that you have to want and earn.
“If you’re scared to do it because you’re considered a nerd — it is 2023,” Edwards said. “Being a nerd is kind of cool now. Just be yourself most of the time. Don’t let other people control you and tell what to do.”
MINDDRIVE organizes teams for fives schools and manages the races.
The upcoming spring race schedule is:
- Thursday, March 30, 2023 at Operation Breakthrough
- Thursday, April 13, 2023, at Operation Breakthrough
- Thursday, April 27, 2023 — Location TBD
- Championship May 11 — Location TBD
For more information, or to get involved in MINDDRIVE go to