The purpose of the Radio Amateurs of Canada (RAC) Youth Education Program is to encourage Amateur Radio as an innovative way of learning in schools across Canada and a good way to make connections across the curriculum.
The RAC Youth Education Program will provide financial and personal support to teachers and schools in all regions of the country. Teachers who wish to include an element of radio technology in their classroom programs will be eligible for assistance in acquiring the necessary equipment, books and other resources.
The ultimate goal of the Program is to:
- Encourage young people to look to the sciences and technologies for possible career and personal development
- Provide for the revitalization and growth of Amateur Radio with an infusion of young people
Educators around the world recognize that Amateur Radio is a great way for students and teachers to reach out and bring the world – and space – into the classroom. Amateur Radio is an innovative way to learn about science and technology, global perspectives and many other subjects across the curriculum.
Getting young people involved with radio will also strengthen the Amateur Radio Service in Canada, where the average of age of Amateurs is increasing. In addition, Canada needs young people who are skilled in the areas of communications, science, geography and technology.
To achieve these objectives, RAC initiated the Youth Education Program during the spring of 2003 with a simple yet far reaching mandate: bring the benefits of Amateur Radio to young people. Clearly the most effective way to do this is through our schools. RAC recognizes that the Program can only be effective if it has the support of teachers. Thus, the primary focus of the Youth Education Program will be to make it attractive for teachers to incorporate radio into curricular and extra-curricular activities. The goal will not be to ask teachers to do something extra, but rather to offer them tools which will help them to do more effectively, through the medium of radio, what they are already doing. Imagine how much more effective a lesson about space would be if it involved actually talking to an astronaut.
How will it be done?
The RAC Youth Education Program will establish a powerful partnership between participating schools, educators and Amateur mentors to bring Amateur Radio to life in classroom and club settings at schools across Canada. This will be done at no cost to the teacher or the school.
RAC will provide support to participating schools, including:
- Financial help to purchase equipment and other resources
- A collection of print, digital and audiovisual material about Amateur Radio to purchase
- Liaison with local Amateur Radio clubs to provide expertise from the community in acquiring equipment and setting up an Amateur Radio station at the school
- Promotion for the participating school: on RAC's website; in local and national press; and in provincial and national education publications
- Access to experienced Radio Amateurs across the country
- Advice on other possible financial support for the use of communications technology in the classroom
How does a school qualify?
In order to qualify for Phase I – with the Program goal of having at least one participating school from each of RAC's seven districts across Canada – the school should have:
- a teacher, possibly a Radio Amateur, who is already using, or would like to start using radio as a part of the curricular or extra-curricular program;
- the support of the school's administration; and
- the support of a local Amateur Radio club. (The membership of a local Amateur Radio club represents many years of experience which will be invaluable to the school.)
The schools which take part in Phase 1 of the Program should be willing to:
- participate in a promotional initiative with RAC (on RAC's website, in local and national press, in provincial and national education publications, etc.) to demonstrate to other teachers the success of Amateur Radio at your school, as well as to encourage contributions to the Program from other potential partners;
- prepare and submit at least six lesson plans on using Amateur Radio at school, to share with teachers across the country on the Youth Education Program website.
How would such a program fit into the curriculum?
Schools at the elementary, middle or high school levels can all benefit from the inclusion of radio in their curriculum. There can be no more effective way to establish the concept of the world community than for students to listen to, or actually speak with, people from other countries and cultures. Geography and atlas skills will certainly become a lot more meaningful if it includes real people in other countries. Lessons about frequency and the speed of light become much more relevant if they involve actually building a working antenna. There are direct links between Amateur Radio and the physics curriculum, as well as communications technology and electronics programs.
The use of Amateur Radio in language classes can range from reading, letter writing and oral communications, to following directions and record keeping. In mathematics, for example, the use of Amateur Radio can involve measurement, numeration and data management, including time zones, metric prefixes, the calculation of distances, and preparing charts and graphs. In social studies, Amateur Radio can be applied to map skills, studying trading partners, and examining global issues. Monitoring the voice communications of astronauts in orbit by Amateur Radio during science class is another way to bring space studies alive. Making electrical circuits and studying weather are two other science applications for Amateur Radio in the classroom.
Along with classroom use, Amateur Radio can also be incorporated at the extra-curricular level. What would be a better addition to a geography club? Many schools offer radio clubs, where students not only have an opportunity to operate receiving and transmitting equipment, but also can even work toward earning an Amateur Radio certificate. This is an excellent opportunity for parents to participate in what their children are doing. Perhaps mom or dad would like to obtain their certificate as well?
What is the benefit to the students?
Beyond the obvious benefit of making lessons more relevant and exciting, this Program has the potential to open new doors for young people. An Amateur Radio certificate might well lead students to careers in science and technology, which are in very high demand in Canada. The communications skills and self-esteem developed through involvement with Amateur Radio will be invaluable regardless of the career path. Amateur Radio has a very long history of public service, providing communications in times of emergency when all else fails. People with skills in this area will be of great value to their community in times of need. Amateur Radio, of course, is a pursuit accessible to young and old, regardless of disability and economic status. After all, how else does the average person get to chat with astronauts on the International Space Station, sailors on ships at sea, or another person on the other side of the world?
Who is the Youth Education Program contact?
For further information about the RAC Youth Education Program, please contact:
Brian Jackson, VE6JBJ
RAC Youth Education Program Chair