ARRL

FAQs How to Approach Schools

Amateur Radio in Local School Classrooms

How do I approach a school to introduce Amateur Radio curriculum and convince them to consider including the curriculum as part of their school program?

This very frequently asked question comes from hams outside the educational system who would like to see Amateur Radio included as an accepted program in their local schools. 

As Amateur Radio operators, we recognize the numerous benefits from including Amateur Radio as an enrichment program in schools. We are aware of the relationship between the knowledge base of our hobby and the concepts in science, math, geography and other subject matter taught in schools. We have observed how the use of Amateur Radio can improve young people's verbal and social skills. We are familiar with the sense of accomplishment gained by passing an FCC exam and operating on the air.

But how do we convince teachers and school administrators of the value Amateur Radio can bring to their school? We've addressed this question and a number of others that come up when hams are trying to figure out what to say and how to start a conversation with a local school.

The next step in preparing for this kind of conversation is to find out what ARRL offers to schools through our Education & Technology Program.  You can learn about the resources ARRL offers to schools and fihd out what teachers and schools are doing with those resources by following the links below.

And, we've prepared a tutorial to help you organize your approach to your local school.  This will help you frame the information to  provide answers to the questions that teachers and school administrators will ask.

FAQs: How to Approach a School

  • What if the school isn’t interested?

    Today, schools are expected to take on more and more of society's responsibilities. Not only are schools responsible for providing a safe stimulating educational environment, they are also required to provide community and social services as well. Schools are under the microscope to meet state and national educational standards and to increase student performance on standardized tests. Added to these duties are staff issues, union issues, budget issues, local election issues, privacy issues, school-community based management issues, and the list goes on. Perhaps you may understand the tremendous variety of responsibilities schools deal with daily.

    We may perceive the school staff and administration as not interested, but in fact they are very interested in new ideas to help students learn. They are extremely busy and often don't have the luxury of time, so when we do have an opportunity to meet with them we need to be able to show them how Amateur Radio helps students learn.

  • How do some schools do it?

    How then did the present schools now using Amateur Radio in the classroom manage to start their Ham Radio programs? It is not usually a top down decision. Virtually all public schools using Amateur Radio for instruction began with a teacher within the school deciding to share his/her hobby with students. Some magnet schools and academies have made an administrative decision to use Amateur Radio as a focus but they are the exceptions rather than the rule.

  • How do I go about it?

    1. Find a Teacher

    • To succeed in convincing a school to implement an Amateur Radio program, I would recommend finding either a teacher at that school with an Amateur Radio license, or one who is innovative and willing to eventually become licensed. Have this interested person pursue it from within the system, with your support from the community.

    • Where do you find a teacher? Bring the topic up at a club meeting. Some member or someone's spouse, parent, or neighbor is a teacher. If you are invited into one classroom, let other teachers know you can arrange for a demo in their room also, on another day.

    • Offer to be a guest speaker (or demonstrator) on "technology night" or "science night" or "career day" or "public service day".... Often the PTA people are the ones to contact.

    • Leave a flyer at teacher workshops, museums, or other places that serve teachers.

    • Demonstrate, don't teach. Don't push licensing. Pretend you are talking to a zoning board. You want them to appreciate ham radio, not necessarily recruit them.

    • Eventually, some teacher will get hooked and want to become involved. It may take several positive interactions and some hands-on exposure before a teacher will want to get really invested.

       

    2. Other Implementation Models

    • Schools that do not have a teacher with an Amateur Radio license can offer Amateur Radio as an enrichment program. This requires a licensed volunteer from the community coming into the school several times per week to teach the class. A teacher within the school usually sponsors the program and supervises the volunteer. Some schools have regular enrichment periods several times per week. Other schools have specific teachers offer enrichment programs during their regular class activities.
    • Another possibility is to have an Amateur Radio volunteer offer an after school program. Keep in mind that many schools will not allow unsupervised adults to work with children unless they have undergone fingerprinting, a background check, and often, training in youth issues.
    • Yet another possibility is to concentrate on Short Wave Listening (SWL) where there is no license required. 

    3. Show Them

    • How do we inform the educational community how Amateur Radio can help young people learn? Don't Tell Them, Show Them. Show them a classroom where students are actively studying scientific concepts through Amateur Radio. Show them an active contesting station. Show them how to construct a dipole antenna, emphasizing the math and physics involved.

    4. Student Demonstration

    • A good way to get the attention of educational officials or teachers is to have students perform a demonstration. A small group of 6th or 7th graders, demonstrating an HF QSO, or satellite contact can have a profound effect on educators. Allowing students to demonstrate the depth of their knowledge through several layers of questions will leave a lasting impression.

    • Point out the many possible curriculum connections and science benchmarks that can be addressed using Amateur Radio.

     

  • What justification is there for including Amateur Radio in schools?

    • Amateur Radio provides integration of technology, math, science, geography, writing, reading, and speaking through hands-on application of these concepts either individually or in a group;

    • Amateur Radio encourages investigation and experimentation as a basis for understanding technical subjects;
       
    • Amateur Radio encourages communications via a variety of methods: voice, various digital techniques, Morse code, and even Amateur Television. They also communicate by using satellites and bouncing signals off the moon;

    • Amateur Radio encourages public service through the links with state and federal disaster preparedness agencies;

    • Amateur Radio holds few roadblocks for people with disabilities. Many people who are physically challenged or visually impaired are able to participate in communicating with simple adaptive devices;

    • Amateur Radio offers a platform for life-long-learning through an active hobby that encourages competition in contesting, spreading international goodwill through friendships developed over years of communicating and advancement in technology by experimentation.

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