Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Amateur Radio in the Classroom

Ham Radio My husband and I recently got our amateur radio licenses in June and it has opened up a whole new world for us. We joined ARRL which is a national association for amateur radio and our local Blue Ridge Amateur Radio Society. Then I began to wonder how amateur radio could be used in the classroom. There is no age limit for young or old to get their license but you do have to pass a test. There are three classes of licenses: technician, general, and extra. In the past, a person had to pass Morse code also in addition to the written test but now you no longer need to do that. If I used Amateur Radio in the classroom, here are ways that I would use it.

I learn new vocabulary every day and a personal dictionary would be great for students to create. It can be done on an individual basis or can be done as a class. It seems like every day I learn a new vocabulary word to add to my own list.

With Amateur Radio, there is so much science involved that many lessons can be designed for the classroom. Physics on all different levels can be taught to the students. When I was in elementary school, I remember our class building a radio and it was so much fun! Students can learn so much about electricity and electronics using a radio and it would show the students that learning this information can apply to real life.

Along with the science, there are many formulas and math word problems that lend themselves to the world of amateur radio. It is kind of fun to see how frequencies and wavelengths are used in the formulas to find needed information.

Social Studies can also be taught using amateur radios. The history of communication would be fun to explore. Also geography is covered as students connect with people from around the world. Current events can be learned through communication with others.

Emergency preparedness is taught though the use of the amateur radio. Students can learn and practice procedures used in case a disastrous event occurs. This would really show the relevance of all the learning that is taking place. Once a year, the local amateur radio club holds a field day. According to the ARRL website,

“ARRL Field Day is the single most popular on-the-air event held annually in the US and Canada.  Each year over 35,000 amateurs gather with their clubs, friends or simply by themselves to operate.

ARRL Field Day is not a fully adjudicated contest, which explains much of its popularity.  It is a time where many aspects of Amateur Radio come together to highlight our many roles. While some will treat it as a contest, most groups use the opportunity to practice their emergency response capabilities.  It is an excellent opportunity to demonstrate Amateur Radio to local elected community leaders, key individuals with the organizations that Amateur Radio might serve in an emergency, as well as the general public. For many clubs, ARRL Field Day is one of the highlights of their annual calendar.”

Blogs can be developed to talk about the different learning that takes place. This not only encourages reading and writing but also connecting with others about amateur radios.

Computer Technology is involved when students find out that they can use Echolink as a way of connecting with other amateur radio stations. Some radios even involve using GPS capabilities for locating different ham operators/stations.

I found this article that gave some great suggestions: Radios in the Classroom: Curriculum Integration and Communication Skills. ERIC Digest.

If you have any interest in radio or communication, you might consider checking into amateur radios and eventually involving your class in this. Many ham operators started at a very young age and there was even Boy Scouts at our local field day. I wrote about field day in my post Bridging Generations if you want to read more about that.

Are you a ham operator? If so, please let me know your call sign and location. Maybe sometime we will cross paths. I am KB4HKR and my husband is KB4DON. If you involve your class in using amateur radios, please share how you do this. Thanks for reading!

Posted on the Successful Teaching Blog by loonyhiker (successfulteaching at gmail dot com).

Original Photo: Ham Radio by Pat Hensley


Ev said...

I hadn't thought about using radio's in the classroom but it would fit right in with the technology. I'm now thinking the local ham's would like to come to the school and help out as well.

Now that the general license doesn't have the morse code requirement, I think I may be studying up. I could just not do well enough to pass the morse code test.

Oh so many new ideas.

cornerstone university grand rapids said...

I haven't tried this either but Ev is right. This is truely in line with the times. I might suggest to have one in our campus. Good idea.