The 2017 Teachers Institute: “Good People, Good Fun, Good Education”
ARRL’s Education & Technology Program (ETP) continues striving to meet its educational outreach goals by offering three types of resources for schools: projects and kits, grants for school radio stations, and professional development opportunities for teachers. These opportunities take the form of ARRL’s renowned Teachers Institute on Wireless Technology — an expenses-paid seminar that takes place every summer in various locations throughout the US. Through sponsoring these 5-day courses, ARRL aims to introduce teachers to Amateur Radio as an instructional resource.
The Teachers Institute (TI) sessions use a project-based curriculum to help educators at all grade levels develop an educational foundation for wireless technology literacy. Attendees leave the program with the tools and strategies needed to integrate basic electronics, the science of radio, space technology, satellite communications, weather science, introduction to microcontrollers, and basic robotics into their classrooms.
“I used the curriculum from the ARRL site to teach a semester-long course of which ham radio was a focal point,” said Sue Beckenham, KM6LYV, a teacher at Providence High School in Burbank, California, who participated in the 2017 TI-1 session led by Tommy Gober, N5DUX.
The curriculum of the 5-day TI-1: Introduction to Wireless Technology covered fundamental principles of electronics, Ohm’s Law, electronic components, simple circuits, and a “Soldering 101” tutorial. The course also introduced digital signals and processing, microcontrollers, and programming, and participants built and tested a variety of circuits to demonstrate programming concepts. They constructed Boe-Bot robots, learned firsthand about tracking satellites to try to make contacts, and took part in a foxhunt, using radios to pinpoint the origin of transmitted signals. The program ended with participants making action plans on applying learned concepts in the classroom, solidifying the goals of the session.
The Teachers Institute curriculum is designed for highly motivated teachers, and Sue was a perfect fit. She received her Technician license while at the Teachers Institute, upgraded to General soon after, has become a Volunteer Examiner (VE), and most importantly, she has used the skills she learned from the Teachers Institute to guide eight of her students through getting their Amateur Radio licenses.
Sue described the experience, saying it was a culmination of “good people, good, fun, [and] good education.” After such an amazing experience, Sue is dedicated to immersing herself in her “newfound love,” adding, “I absolutely intend on applying and going to the TI-2.”
In the TI-2 Workshop: Remote Sensing and Data Gathering, Sue and her fellow teachers will receive further instruction on the entire process of remote sensing, from developing sensor packages to collecting and analyzing the sensor’s data. They will discuss high-altitude balloons and land and marine deployment systems, working up to exploring a buoy system for deploying sensors to do environmental studies. By the end of the program, teachers will have the tools they need to help their students utilize technology in active research.
Promoting the teaching of technology is one of ARRL’s main goals, and as an investment in the next generation of STEM professionals, ARRL will remain active in educational outreach.