Grant Students Take to the Air in Ham Radio Club
Students in the Dorothy Grant Elementary School Amateur Radio Club attended a recent Board Meeting to give the FUSD Board of Education a report on their club’s activities.
Teacher Beverly Matheson founded the club along last fall with David Colingham, a Fontana High School graduate who is a ham radio expert based in Maryland. “The club consists of 30 fourth and fifth grade students who come every Thursday for an hour after school to work the radio and to study the Technician Manual in hopes of getting their own FCC license,” said Ms. Matheson. ”The club has become so popular that more and more kids want to join, but I just don’t have enough room. The kids are highly motivated and want to learn as much as possible about electronics, the radio and the science behind radio technology.”
During their presentation, Grant students enthusiastically told the Board about their experiences making contact with fellow ham radio operators around the world. They've made contacts in Alaska, Washington, Oregon, Southern California, Ohio, Colorado, Argentina, the Falkland Islands, Hungary, Moldavia and Japan, just to name a few. And as they do so, they are learning about geography and world cultures.
“With the coming of the Common Core Standards, I see the use of the ham radio in the classroom as a source for project-based learning,” she continued. “Besides the areas my students in the club have indicated learning about, my students in my class use ham radio to develop many other skills. They develop their reading skills by understanding the concepts and the vocabulary in the technician’s manual, which is a higher level technical text that requires close use of reading skills and strategies. They develop their writing skills by writing about the topics they are learning about and activities they are experiencing. They are using graphic organizers to plan their writing and then completing the writing process. They have also written countless letters of thanks to people who have generously helped us with the club and the flag projects over the years.”
A few years ago, Ms. Matheson asked Mr. Colingham if he would take the flag made by the students in her class with him on one of his expeditions. The students wanted to put a positive message on the flag so that everyone who came in contact with the flag would have their spirit uplifted in some way. Over the last three years, the students in Miss Matheson’s class have sent their flag to the South Pacific, China Seas, and this year to Mount Athos, Greece where it was signed by Monk Apollo who also happens to be a Ham Radio operator.
“My plan is to build my depth of knowledge in electronics and radio science so I can develop a STEM program at my school that incorporates ham radio with Discovery Education,” said Ms. Matheson. “Then at some point I would like to extend our program to the middle school and maybe even the high school.”