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Amateur Radio and Youth

Brian Jackson, VE6JBJ
RAC Youth Program Coordinator

Amateur Radio is a hobby made especially for youth. As a radio operator, you will have the chance to talk to people around the world and even astronauts in space.

Through Amateur Radio, you will learn and practise a set of lifelong skills that will help you throughout your future: STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) principles that are taught in school, including the basics of electronics and wave propagation.

You will also make many lifelong friends and connections to your community. You will be prepared for, and can contribute during emergencies that arise. Amateur Radio will provide you with many opportunities in your community.

I am a Middle School Teacher in Airdrie, Alberta, a small city about 15 minutes north of Calgary. The greatest day in my 30‑year teaching career was in early January 2004. The only problem was that I didn’t know it. The day that Ken Oelke, VE6AFO, told me that I had passed my Basic test and I had been granted my Amateur Radio licence, my Alberta teaching career turned in a direction that has made me a better teacher.

I use radio a great deal in my classroom and love showing kids the wonders of Amateur Radio and I am the Chair of the RAC Youth Education Program. I primarily use IRLP (I am also the owner of node 1860) and D-Star. I have radios in my classroom at CW Perry School for both of these. I also have a small ham shack in my garage at home. I hope to hear from you on the air!

Since 2005, I have also been one of the Canadian mentors for the ARISS program, helping coordinate radio contacts between the ISS and schools and youth groups in Canada and around the world. You can see an excellent video below of an ARISS contact between astronaut Paolo Nespoli, IZ0JPA, onboard the International Space Station, answering questions from students at Huntley Centennial Public School in Carp, Ontario on November 28, 2017.

Amateur Radio on the International Space Station

Amateur Radio on the International Space Station (ARISS) is a cooperative venture of the Radio Amateur Satellite Corporation (AMSAT), the American Radio Relay League (ARRL), the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) in the United States and other international space agencies and international Amateur Radio organizations around the world including Radio Amateurs of Canada.

ARISS offers an opportunity for students to experience the excitement of Amateur Radio by talking directly with crew members onboard the International Space Station. Teachers, parents and communities see, firsthand, how Amateur Radio and crew members on the International Space Station can energize youth and instill an interest in science, technology, and learning.

Further information on the ARISS program is available in the video provided below and on the ARISS webpage.

ARISS Video by Denis Rule, VE3BF: To see what ARISS is all about please see the excellent YouTube video by Denis Rule, VE3BF, which is provided above. The video provides highlights of astronaut Paolo Nespoli, IZ0JPA, onboard the International Space Station, answering questions from students at Huntley Centennial Public School in Carp, Ontario on November 28, 2017 before the global pandemic made assemblies impossible. This contact was made possible by volunteer Amateur Radio operators including Brian Jackson, VE6JBJ (pictured above) who acted as the Moderator for the event and the Mentor on site was Steve McFarlane, VE3TBD.

RAC Scholarship and Grant Program

The following is an example of previous Grants and Scholarships that have been awarded:

RAC Scholarship Awarded

High Altitude Balloon (HAB) Programs

High Altitude Balloons: “The Elevation Education”

Kelly Shulman at NASA
Teacher Kelly Shulman, VE3KLX, meeting with astronaut Charles Bolden at NASA.
Kelly Shulman, VE3KLX

Kelly Shulman, VE3KLX, is a Computer Science, Physics and Math Teacher from North Bay, Ontario. She received her Amateur Radio certification in the spring of 2017 through an interest in High Altitude Ballooning and joined the North Bay Amateur Radio Club at that time. She has written several articles about the High Altitude Balloon (HAB) program for The Canadian Amateur magazine.

Her first article in the January-February 2019 TCA was called “High Altitude Ballooning: The Elevation Education”. Here is an excerpt:

“On Monday, October 29, the Grade 11 Physics students of West Ferris Intermediate Secondary School in North Bay, launched a camera-toting high altitude balloon payload to Earth’s stratosphere, under the direction of their teacher Kelly Shulman.

This near space mission had three primary goals: to challenge the students with a real-world engineering problem; to record experimental data that could be used to examine course concepts; and to provide contextual anchors that will help students understand and retain Physics concepts, such as terminal velocity and the conservation of energy in a closed system.”

For more information visit our High Altitude Balloon programs webpage.

Kelly Shulman’s excellent presentation on the High Altitude Balloon program is available for viewing on the RAC YouTube Channel.