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ARRL and NASA Team Up to Help Teachers


A radio experiment held on July 26, 2023, to decode a slow-scan TV (SSTV) message sent via the ham radio station on the International Space Station (ISS) was successful.


The image was received by a group of educators at the headquarters of  ARRL  The National Association for Amateur Radio® in Newington, Connecticut through the voice repeater on the ISS. Teachers from around the United States were on hand for the ARRL Teachers Institute on Wireless Technology, a program that empowers educators to incorporate amateur radio into their science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) curriculum. As part of the professional development program, the group received and decoded the image sent by volunteers with Amateur Radio on the International Space Station (ARISS). The transmitted image said, "ARRL Teachers Institute: ensuring a space for radio in the next generation."

The teachers thought it was cool. "Amateur radio is so important to the future of engineering and STEM in our country," said Kristen Kucko, KQ4ECP, one of the institute participants. The group gathered outside ARRL Headquarters with antennas they had made earlier in the day. As the pass happened, the educators tracked the ISS by hand. A warble of SSTV transmission filled the air, and the group was excited. After the pass, they used laptops to decode the audio stream into an image, while they sat on picnic tables and enjoyed pizza and wings.

For ARRL Education and Learning Manager Steve Goodgame, K5ATA, the experiment was a way to allow teachers to engage with the power of radio. "When teachers can pull an image off the ISS via amateur radio, it gives a sense of accomplishment that gets them excited. We want to get them fired up about radio, so they can carry that energy back to their classrooms and do the same thing with their students," said Goodgame.

Each of the teachers on hand for the second phase of the institute, -- "TI-2: Remote Sensing and Data Analysis," -- have already been through the introductory course and they are all licensed radio amateurs. The institute costs teachers nothing to attend, thanks to funding from the ARRL Education & Technology Program.

Several local television stations from the Hartford-New Haven market covered the event. See coverage from WTNH News 8 (ABC) and WFSB Eyewitness News 3 (CBS).




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