First 2009 ARRL Teachers Institute in the Books


The week of May 25 saw the completion of the first 2009 Teachers Institute on Wireless Technology. According to Education and Technology Program Coordinator Mark Spencer, WA8SME, about half of the participants came from the host institution, the New Mexico Military Institute (NMMI) in Roswell. "The NMMI was an exceptional venue for the Teachers Institute and the school's chaplain, Major Dan Musgrave, WD8RMG, proved to be a gracious host, as well as one of the NMMI faculty participants," Spencer recounted.

Spencer said that the Teachers Institute curriculum -- four days of intensive in-service training in basic electronics, the science of radio, bringing space technology into the classroom, microcontroller programming and basic robotics -- continues to be refined. "One participant, a Colonel, commented that the Teachers Institute far exceeded her expectations, and that she could not even imagine the amount of material that was covered during the course," Spencer said. Another participant -- a Lieutenant Colonel who is the NMMI choir and band director -- quickly made connections between the operation of the musical instruments he instructs (and his cadet students use) and the five building blocks of radio that are presented in the Science of Radio unit.

"This connection between content areas -- in this case music and electronics -- is an example of what the program and the Teachers Institutes are all about," Spencer said. "This instructor will now be in a better position to help his students to make their own connections between the subjects they are studying in school. These connections make learning relevant."

The next two Teachers Institutes -- in Rocklin, California and in Tucson, Arizona -- are scheduled for the second week in June, marking the first time that two Teachers Institutes have been held at the same time. Spencer and Teachers Institute Instructor Miguel Enriquez, KD7RPP, plan to connect the two sessions by making a satellite contact using AO27. "This will demonstrate to participants how amateurs connect with each other via satellites," Spencer explained, "making a practical demonstration of the Space in the Classroom unit."