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ARRL Teachers Institutes Wrap Up in New Mexico, South Carolina and California


After the first ARRL Teachers Institute on Wireless Technology (TI) of 2010 concluded this past February in Tucson, Arizona, three more TIs happened in quick succession -- New Mexico, South Carolina and California -- in May and June.

The Teachers Institute on Wireless Technology is a four-day, expenses paid in-residence learning opportunity designed for motivated teachers and other school staff who want to learn more about wireless technology and bring that knowledge to their students. A variety of topics are covered during the TI, including basic wireless technology literacy, electronics, the science of radio, radio astronomy, how to bring space into the classroom ham radio operation introduction to micro controllers and basic robotics. Participants do not need to have an Amateur Radio license to attend a TI session.

New Mexico Military Institute in Roswell, New Mexico -- May 24-27

After the February TI in Tucson, the next one was scheduled for May at the New Mexico Military Institute in Roswell, New Mexico. This was the second year in a row the NMMI hosted an ARRL Teachers Institute. ARRL Education and Technology Program Coordinator Mark Spencer, WA8SME, led this TI that was attended by 13 teachers: 12 from NMMI and one from a middle school in Albuquerque.

The teachers who attended the New Mexico TI were eager learners, Spencer said. “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,” he recounted. Musgrave participated in the NMMI TI last year.

One participant at the NMMI TI said that “never in a million years did I ever think I would build on electronics, sound waves, light signals, computer programs, micro controllers or robots. I feel smart! I hope to share this information with students and encourage them to seek careers in the field. This was a wonderful course and I am thankful that the ARRL puts on this course.”

Another said the sessions were “plum-full” of things to accomplish: “I see how students can be motivated by the curriculum to explore the concepts of wireless through the materials. I will be offering these materials -- and the opportunity to enjoy them -- to my students as an extra-credit center of exploration for them to use and play with.”

Walhalla High School in Walhalla, South Carolina -- June 14-17

Spencer also led the next ARRL Teachers Institute, this one in Walhalla, South Carolina. “At the end of the last day, the locals had scheduled a presentation to their school board about curriculum adjustments for next year,” Spencer said. “Apparently they proposed a number of new classes and curriculum adjustments for next year based on the TI experience. The initial feedback is that the school board and administration were very pleased with the proposed changes.”

Participants were enthusiastic about the program, with one saying “Thanks you for an awesome insight into a complicated subject. I have learned more in four days than I did in four years of college!”

Another said it was the best institute that she has attended in 27 years of teaching: “It was the kind of experience that will change the way I teach. It will make my teaching better. I have only about six more years to teach, but I will be a better teacher for the last six years of my career. You are a great instructor; I wish I knew as much about radio as you have forgotten. Thank you so much and many thanks to the ARRL.”

Parallax, Inc in Rocklin, California -- June 21-24

ARRL Teachers Institute Instructor Nathan McCray, K9CPO, made the trek to California to lead the next Teachers Institute. Held at Parallax -- the manufacturer of the BOE-BOTs that are used by TI participants -- this TI had students from all areas of the US, including Hawaii, Massachusetts, Florida, Texas and Wisconsin. Thirteen teachers were in the group, including four from the California Aerospace Academy.

McCray said that on the third day of the TI, the group enjoyed a special treat, courtesy of Parallax. Andy Lindsay -- the curriculum designer and technical writer of What’s a Microcontroller, one of the books used in the TI curricula for use with the BOE-BOTs -- had re-written portions of the text and used the new set of PowerPoint slides in the class.

“These improvements had ideas that were hatched from Mark Spencer, Miguel Enriquez, KD7RPP, and myself,” McCray said. “It was pretty cool to see our ideas in print. Andy also gave the class a nice gift that will go with the student’s BOE-BOTs. We also had the added pleasure of having Mark bring his weather system to the class and he captured an image for use.”

“This is an excellent course with tremendous possibilities for standards based application in math, science and engineering classrooms,” said one participant. “I was blown away with how much we covered and how much more I still wanted to investigate that we did not have time for! I am so excited to now take this material and create projects that align to my units so that my sometimes dry math topics become interesting, relevant and hands-on.”

Another called the TI “amazing! This provided me with so many technical possibilities to expand in all of my classes. I can’t wait for the school year to start! I especially love how so many of these projects are cross-curricular so we can all do this together in my school. All of the activities are so fun and I wish we had more time for it. These kits and supplies totally blew me away!  This is the best professional development I have ever been to! Everything is well organized and useful. The radio telescope was the coolest part; I can’t wait to build one!”

There is one more ARRL Teachers Institute session in 2010: July 19-22 at ARRL Headquarters in Newington, Connecticut. The Teachers Institute program is one component of the grant offerings within the ARRL’s Education and Technology Program (ETP) portfolio of resources made available to schools and school teachers to advance the integration of wireless technology literacy and ham radio into school curricula. Find out more information on the ARRL Teachers Institute on Wireless Technology on the ARRL Web site.



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