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Preparation for an ARISS Contact

These resources will help you develop develop your proposal for an ARISS contact including your education plan and a media plan. 

You'll find resources here for learning about satellite communications, radio science, electronics and space travel and exploration.  Review some of the education plans developed by other schools for ideas.  You'll want to read some of the stories written about other ARISS contacts, and watch some of the videos to develop an idea of the kind of impact to expect from the event and to think about  ways that you might develop follow on activities to take advantage of the student interests that may result.

An ARISS contact provides opportunities for learning about satellite communications and wireless technology. These students at Midvalley School in Midvale UT learned about programming robots, antennas, and "fox hunting" for remote transmitters on their journey to radio communcation with the ISS.

Read the full story.


  • You'll need to develop an educational proposal as part of your plan for an ARISS contact. The ARISS contact affords an opportunity to integrate many different areas of the school curriculum to magnify the experience of the contact.

  • ARRL Resources for Classroom Instruction

    Resources developed for our Education & Technology Program are available for you to use to prepare your students for an amateur radio contact with the ISS. You can introduce foundational concepts of wireless communications, radio waves, the electromagnetic spectrum, wave forms and modulation, satellite communications, orbits, Keplerian elements-- to name a few. 


    The Teachers Institute on Wireless Technology offers a professional development opportunity which provides  hands-on training for you to learn about basic electronics, wireless communications, micro-controllers, programming fundamentals and robotics along with resources for your classsroom instruction.  Attending the Teachers Institute is a great way to prepare for an ISS contact through the ARISS program.
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  • NASA Education Resources

    NASA provides a wealth of resources for educators and students interested in exploring space flight and research being conducted on the ISS and in space.   The central repository for information about education programs and activities is

    Specific mission and science project information can be obtained directly from NASA, via the Space Flight website.   

    The NASA Digital Learning Network provides interactive programs that allow you and your students to learn more about our home planet and the universe beyond.  You’ll find lessons, activities, and presentations that meet your instructional objectives.   A unit called Ham it up - Amateur Radio describes how amateur radio is used on the International Space Station as a means of communication with the astronauts on board.

    NASA Television offers a front-row seat on the latest in space science, plus educational and historical programs. They sometimes air live coverage of ARISS contacts. NASA-TV is received by satellite dish or may be on your local cable TV network.
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  • ARISS Proposal Process

    Two proposal windows are opened each year for schools and organizations to submit proposals to host a scheduled ARISS contact.

    For current information about proposal windows and the proposal process, click here.
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  • Sample ARISS Education Plans

    David Bettinson, 6th grade teacher at Midvalley Elementary School in Midvale, Utah attended ARRL's Teachers Institute on Wireless Technology in 2008 and developed the educational plan for the school's contact with Astronaut Jeffrey Williams on December 2, 2009.  He shares the thinking that went into developing the educational proposal and his vision beyond the ARISS contact event. Read more.


    Charlie Cantrill, KI4RDT, developed a curriculum plan for an ARISS contact with the ISS.  Mr. Cantrill is an Information Technology Instructor at Nelson County Area Technology Center in Bardstown, Kentucky. Space and Telecommunications core content for Information Technology Curriculum (high school level) can be found here. Foster Heights (elementary school level) space-related educational activities can be found here.

  • Signals and Noise: A Lesson Plan for Grades 3-5

    Here's an example of a lesson plan available in the NASA Educator archive.

    Have you ever wondered what is the difference between "signals" and "noise?"  This creative lesson plan, developed by Montana State University for NASA'a New Horizons educational program, introduces the concept of "signals" as compared to "noise."  The lesson plan is geared for primary grades (3rd-5th).  It meets state standards as well as National Science standards for technology. 

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  • Shared Resources from Other Teachers

    Take advantage of these activity and lesson ideas developed by other teachers as part of their education plan for an ARISS contact.

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  • Learning about Satellite Communications

    Amateur radio operators enjoy making contacts with the ISS and via satellites with their personal amateur radio stations.  Schools can too! Learning what's involved opens the door to learning about satellite communications and telecommunications technology.

    These resources will provide an introduction.
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  • Space Day Program

    Since its launch in 1997, the Space Day educational initiative, which takes place on the first Friday of each May, has evolved into a massive grassroots effort dedicated to the extraordinary achievements, benefits and opportunities in the exploration and use of space. The ultimate goal is to promote math, science, technology and engineering education by nurturing young peoples' enthusiasm for the wonders of the universe and inspiring them to continue the stellar work of today's space explorers.
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  • ESA Educational Resources

    The European Space Agency (ESA) is Europe’s gateway to space. Its mission is to shape the development of Europe’s space capability and ensure that investment in space continues to deliver benefits to the citizens of Europe and the world.  

    ESA offers resources for educators at, and also,a website with online activities for kids at


  • Explore Space Noise and Radio Astronomy

    Believe it or not, space is full of noise! Learn how to build a radio telescope to listen to the heavens.   

    Before radio astronomy was mainstream, hams were tinkering with ways to listen to satellites and even Apollo missions.  Read this QST article about how radio amateur Larry Baysinger, W4EJA was able to eavesdrop on Apollo 11 astronauts while they were on the moon! 

    NASA has more information about listening to space signals and sounds at their JOVE website. 


  • Earth Calling: Explore Spacecraft Radio Communication

    Another of the educator resources contained in the NASA education archive, this hands-on activity for Grades 6-8 developed for NASA's New Horizons Pluto mission explores spacecraft radio communication concepts, including the speed of light and the time delay for signals sent to and from spacecraft. Through this activity, students will be able to calculate the amount of time it takes for a radio signal to travel to  a spacecraft using the speed of light; demonstrate the delay in radio communication signals to and from a spacecraft; devise unique solutions to the radio-signal delay problem; and compare their velocity to that of the spacecraft and the speed of light.

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  • K-8 Space Education Resources

    Check out this collection of resource links provided by JACO Aerospace:

  • Uses of Electromagnetic Spectrum

    This excellent NASA video tour of the electromagnectic spectrum explains the many uses of different regions of the electromagnetic spectrum:



  • The Fine Art of Astrophotography

    Bates College produced a pretty slick 25-minute video primer on basic astronomy.  Just follow this link to view it.  The video was based heavily on images from our 2012 exhibition, Starstruck: The Fine Art of Astrophotography.    I encourage teachers to connect with the good people at Sky&Telescope Magazine, based in Cambridge, Mass. 

    And, since I'm an art museum guy, I thought all you radio people might enjoy this conceptual work by artist Katie Paterson.  I think there was a similar work that involved a piano playing the sonata which was broadcast to the moon, bounced back and played along with the piano with the short delay due to the travel time for the radio waves to make the round trip.  Not necessarily pleasant listening, but instructive in terms of getting the students to understand the vast distances of space and the considerations one has to make for the speed of light.

    Anthony Shostak
    Education Curator
    Bates College Museum of Art
    Lewiston, ME

  • Life From Space

    Visit this website hosted by National Geographic that includes a video and other interacive links to follow the ISS:



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