Amateur Radio as a Stem Classroom Tool

Amateur Radio as a Stem Classroom Tool

(Guest Post: Jeffrey A. Meyer is a Radio Amateur and Model Railroader, and Retiree currently residing in Painesville, Ohio.)


We’ve come a long way since 1895 when the radio was first “invented”. That continuing radio-based research resulted in both AM and FM radio, RADAR of all kinds (police and weather too), the microwave oven, the television remote, mobile phones, and everything wireless. Today, radio is so prevalent that we get our news and weather on TV, radio, and smartphones, our cars nearly drive themselves, we can turn on our house lights remotely, keep our pets contained, heat up our meals, follow our kids on daycare cameras, order our favorite fast food at the drive-thru, etc.………..

Now, let’s look at how a 125 plus-year-old association with radio continues to offer an unrivaled STEM learning opportunity for today’s students.

SCIENCE (PHYSICS)

Amateur Radio revolves around sending and receiving radio waves, and to do so, students will learn about the earth’s atmosphere, basic electricity, sunspots, meteorology, Ohm’s Law, radio theory, and weather.

MATHEMATICS

This hobby involves the metric system and is comprised of many mathematical formulas, from calculating dimensions to building antennas to plotting a top view 3D picture of how an antenna actually works in space.

ELECTRONICS TECHNOLOGY

Electronic circuits are created by connecting different combinations of electronic parts, so the student will learn what these parts look like, what they do, be able to identify them in a schematic diagram, participate in both assembling and wiring projects, learn how to solder and how to do all of this safely.

COMPUTER SCIENCE

Today, our computers talk to our radios, which means we can control them remotely or in your home radio room. This software can change both their frequencies and modes, control where we aim our antennas to exactly towards where we want to talk, record our contacts directly into our station logs, dispatch that contact information to websites for awards and even enable us to design our own proof of contact postcards.

COMMUNICATION ARTS & FOREIGN LANGUAGES


Through Amateur Radio, the student is able to sharpen both their conversational and listening skills. Broadening one’s horizons, through meeting and engaging with other people and cultures, is an important aspect of everyone’s personal growth. Those activities help all of us to better understand the world around us and learn the important art of being a patient listener. In addition to that, foreign language broadcasts can also be used to fill the gap between the “King’s English” and everyday conversation.

GEOGRAPHY

There is no better hobby or activity on earth that addresses this topic better than Amateur Radio. As signals are traveling all around the world 24/7/365, you will ALWAYS hear foreign amateur stations. Without having Amateur Radio, in my life, I wouldn’t readily know where specific countries are located, which continent they are in, or be able to answer that Final Jeopardy question that no one else knew.

I’ve shown you that radio is more relevant than ever, given you just a small sampling of examples, where radio activities intersect with STEM instruction and demonstrated how a simple hobby easily brings the non-textbook, practical side of problem-solving into your classroom environment.

Finally, programs like this are rare enough that there are less than fifty schools nationally doing something similar, with some states having none at all. That being said, there are plenty of opportunities out there to blaze a new trail and use this hobby as a unique launching pad for your kids, so why not with your school and why not now? Do you see the potential? Check out SARCNET at www.sarcnet.org. and you’ll see what I mean.

Let’s collaborate on this, you’ll be glad we did.

QST from Flickr Commons     

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