Teaching Ham Radio at Summer Camp
Since 1999, Joel Colman, NO5FD, has been introducing Amateur Radio to youngsters at the Henry S. Jacobs Camp in its residential summer program in Utica, MS. Colman meets with campers who choose the radio elective for one hour, three to four times a week. While he says it’s not enough time to teach a licensing course, it does allow Colman to teach them about Morse code, the phonetic alphabet, making QSOs, and even a little contesting.
Read more about his approach to engage kids and show them the fun Amateur Radio can offer.
Story Hour via Ham Radio
In Culver City, California, the Culver City Friends of the Library recently hosted ham radio operator, Erika Hoekstra, KG6LKG, for their monthly "story time." Hoekstra read a book over the air on the CCARES 440 repeater and let the children hear it on a HT they held. For all the children and for many of the parents this was the first time they had ever had a ham radio in their hands. Following the story, the children and their families all made the classic communication device-- 2 cans and a string!
"You'll have some fun at the hamfest, it will just take some preparation. The object is to have some hands-on activities that will draw the kids in. " -- Mark Spencer WA8SME
A scavenger hunt. Give the kids a map of the U.S. with the call districts. Have them go around the hamfest and find a ham call from each of the call districts. And/or have a list of ham radio questions that the kids have to ask the participants, i.e., what is your class of license?, when were you first licensed?, what band do you work the most? That kind of thing. Then there are some small prizes for returning the questionnaires.
On the air. Have a two meter radio on a simplex frequency and someone on the other end monitoring (that is good at talking with kids). Have the kids make a contact and then give them a certificate for making their first contact along with a QSL card.
Morse code. Set up a computer with a CPO and key attached to the sound card. Have a code interpreter program running on the computer like CWGet (a free program). The program displays the code as it is being sent. It doesn’t take long for the kids to send their names and short messages. Another good addition would be to have a receiver running and having actually CW being heard to show the kids that it is actually still used today (and you could copy the code on a white board as people walk by, gives you a chance to talk about the code within the code (WX, QSL, etc.)). Ask the kids to practice sending their names in code displaying their names on the computer screen. You'll have to chase away the adults on this one.
Morse code bracelets. Set up a craft area where you use different sized, or color, beads (for dots, dashes, spaces) and have the kids make a name bracelet in Morse code.
Fox hunting. You can set up a fox hunting activity with a hidden transmitter someplace in the area and have the kids in teams try and find the transmitter.
Building activity. You can get some paint stirrers from the local hardware store, some buzzers, and batteries and have the kids make their own CPO. Here’s a picture of the key that they can make. Connect the wires to the sticky foil and you have a good CPO. Have the kids send messages to each other using their CPOs.
Pete Kemp KZ1Z , retired teacher and recipient of the Herb S. Brier Instructor of the Year Award, offers some great advice on setting your expectations and getting organized to work with a school classroom and youth groups. Read More
Prime kids for a CW contest with text!
But first they'll need to learn Morse code. Here are some hands-on activities that can engage kids of all ages and introduce them to one of the cool tools long-enjoyed by hams.
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