ARRL Teachers Institute Off to a Great Start
The first of six Teachers Institutes in 2008 -- hosted by the Museum of Science & Technology in Tampa, Florida -- wrapped up April 10. The 11 participating teachers came away from the experience with a multitude of ideas to improve their classroom instruction. According to Mark Spencer, WA8SME, Director of the ARRL Teachers Institute on Wireless Technology, the four-day institute "focuses on the science of radio, bringing space technology into the classroom, microcontroller basics and basic robotics with emphasis not only on the basic concepts, but also teaching strategies to bring those concepts into the classroom."
Spencer said the Teachers Institute curriculum is an ever-evolving process; this year, a radio telescope project was added that can be used to demonstrate the fundamentals of radio astronomy. The "Soldering 101" unit was enhanced with the addition of a 24-hour clock kit that the teachers construct and learn how to solder in the process. Finally, a BOT Instructor's Board was added to enhance the teacher's ability to instruct basic robotics. Spencer said he designed and developed the BOT board to "tie all the different pillars of the Teachers Institute into one umbrella activity that teachers can use to pull the school year together. The board also can be used to instruct the individual components of robotics, as well as instruct TV remote technology." Spencer said he added an ATV component with the board: "There is a lot of stuff going on with this particular resource."
The Teachers Institute isn't all inside classroom work. The teachers participate in a fox-hunt activity, take part in ham satellite QSOs and observe the collection of satellite imagery transmitted by NOAA satellites -- just as they can do in their classrooms.
Here are a few of the comments from the first 2008 Teachers Institute participants that summarize their experience:
"One of the other teachers in our Academy of Engineering and Design Technology class has applied to attend the Teachers Institute in Dayton this summer. She is excited about the class after hearing of it and seeing my show-and-tell session."
"We are working on robots now in my class and will be well entrenched by the end of this school year. Next year promises to be fun and exciting for the students. The Teachers Institute was a great experience, and the personal tutelage was responsible for making it so."
"Wonderful doesn't begin to describe it. I knew the basics of radio communications and transmission through electromagnetic waves, but I now understand it better than I ever have. The robot was very cool -- it reinvigorated my love of programming. It only took me four attempts to run the maze perfectly! I also made many contacts that I will use to help throughout my teaching career!"
"The instructor is great, absolutely great -- proof that if you do what you love, you'll love what you do!"
"Thanks again for the wonderful experience. I am looking forward to implementing what I learned in the classroom. Please let me know if you will be offering any follow up institutes."
The remaining Institutes for 2008 are just about filled to capacity, Spencer said. "Though the application deadline is May 15, the available seats filled up fast. If you are a teacher, or know of a teacher who could benefit from the experience, don't wait to submit an application for the few remaining seats. If you can't make it this year, perhaps next year. We are adding two additional instructors in anticipation of expanding the program in the future."
Five more Teachers Institutes are scheduled for 2008: June 16-19 in Rocklin, California at the Parallax Facility; June 25-28 in Tucson, Arizona at Pueblo Magnet High School; July 14-17 in Dayton, Ohio at P&R Communications, and July 28-31 and August 4-7 in Newington, Connecticut at ARRL Headquarters. Enrollment in these four-day expenses paid sessions is limited to 12 participants each. Application deadline is May 15, 2008. Applicants must be an active teacher at elementary, middle or high school level, or hold a leadership position in an enrichment or after-school program; an Amateur Radio license is not required. For more information, please visit the Teachers Institute Web site.