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Home School Ham Radio Class

posted Feb 13, 2016, 5:10 PM by Charles Boling

I sent this email today to a few friends:

-------------------------------- - Ham Radio for Home Schoolers - -------------------------------- (Yes, I sent it to a couple of you that aren't schooling, but had previously expressed some interest in becoming a ham.) Several of us that this email is going to have talked for some time about putting together a ham radio class in the Boling home aimed at home schoolers. The class has several goals: 1. Science-related education, touching basic: - - physics - - atmosphere - - mathematics - - electronics 2. Make it easy to earn an amateur radio license 3. Have fun w/ friends The concepts aren't difficult, and the class would be suitable for kids (roughly 8 years old and up) and adults alike. With sufficient interest, we may even run more than one class with different age/interest foci, so we can keep things personal. The course would be composed of multiple sessions (maybe 4-9, depending on how fast we decide to go), probably held weekly. --------- - Price - --------- Free, of course! Additional study materials and practice exams are also available free. (Those who choose to take a "real" test after the course and get their FCC license will have to pay a $15 exam fee.) ------------------------------- - Comparison to other classes - ------------------------------- There are other classes taught around the area periodically; e.g. this weekend there are classes starting in East Vancouver and Lake Oswego, and we try to hold at least one a year in Cowlitz county -- we've held them in Kelso, Longview, Cathlamet and Woodland. Some ways that I'd like this class to be different than a lot of the others: 1. Not as rushed. Some classes are as little as 2 sessions, with most of them being 4. 2. Aimed more at kids. Some classes have some old guy droning on who seems to assume that everyone is of his age and experience, and can sit still for 6 hours. I *hope* not to be too boring, and I'm quite sure that Michele will let me know if I get that way. I also plan to have some of my kids who are hams (Alexander, Miriana, Matthew, Shana) help w/ the class. 3. More personal attention. We're not limited to a class-room situation; anyone can get additional info/help outside the class/lesson. 4. Convenient time - Most classes are evenings & weekends; many home schoolers prefer weekdays. In any case, we may be able to work with your schedule. 5. Convenient location -- okay, it's convenient for ME! It's also convenient because not every member of your family is likely to be in the class, so you have a home to play & visit in. 6. Educational -- many classes teach you to pass the test without learning anything. I want the class participants to come away smarter! Many home-schooled kids (and their parents) like the idea of leaving the conventional science textbook on the shelf for a while and taking a different approach to learning about a variety of things. ------------------ - Why Ham Radio? - ------------------ Why would you even WANT a radio license? For those who haven't already decided that you do (or don't), here are some of the uses: - Everyday family communication. Whether someone's hiking in the hills out of cell phone range, or driving in another city, our family keeps in touch. And with a large family, being able to conveniently talk to everyone at once is really nice. - Emergency preparedness. In December, when roads were blocked and phones & Internet were out, and Jonathan & I were stuck away from home, radio kept us connected with the rest of the family. - Service. When bad things happen, established infrastructure often goes down, and experienced hams are called on to help by gov't and others. There are also often opportunities to serve in our communities providing communications support for more "normal" activities. Hams and others practicing Radio Direction Finding are used to locate downed airplanes, stranded hikers, and Alzheimer patients. - Fun. While a useful tool for some, other people actually *like* it! Whether it's the social aspect, like getting to talk to new people and chat with friends (I'l bet your teenagers don't know that there were people sitting at their keyboards exchanging wireless instant messages in 1922!), contesting, or the many technical aspects of the art, ham radio covers such a wide range of activities that there's something for almost everyone. -------------------------------------- - Ham radio vs. cell phones for kids - -------------------------------------- Are cell phones more convenient in some circumstances? You bet! Let's talk about some of the advantages of radios, though, specifically for kids: - Cheap. I buy a radio for $25 and it's free to use forever more. I can't imagine buying cellular time for all my kids (not to mention managing subscriptions, registering devices, etc.) - Not private. For kids, this is an advantage, not a disadvantage. Encryption is illegal on ham radio. Sure, nobody hears most of our family conversations, but knowing that someone *could* be listening to their conversation w/ a friend or sibling tends to keep your child honest. - Can talk to family, but not most friends. --Unless their friends have their licenses! --Or if they connect to a "phone patch" on a public repeater, in which case it's less private. Again, a disadvantage can be an advantage. - Built-in "earn it!". When is your child mature enough to have their own radio? Easy! When they work to earn their license. How simple is that? - Improves overall communication skills. Several of my children's speech have improved from talking on the radio. When using a public repeater, you tend to care more for how you speak anyway, and both culture and rules tend to discourage some of the inane grunt-speak people sometimes overhear when their kids are on the phone w/ their friends. - Gives them a practical job skill. Radios *are* used in commercial environments; knowing how to operate and maintain them can be useful. - No games. It's hard to find a cell phone without games and other distractions that they don't need all the time. Conversely, it's hard to find ham radios *with* those things. It's a communicator, not a toy. They can have games when you want them to have games. - Educational. It may not them "critical" skills like how to log into Facebook, but there are a lot of things that they *can* learn from it. In the math & science realm, it shows a practical use for all that textbook material. - Confidence and credibility. Like achieving the rank of Eagle in BSA or a Mitchell award in CAP, when a kid is a licensed radio operator (esp. if they have a professional demeanor to go with it), adults will take them more seriously. - Opportunity for service and growth. Credentials + credibility will allow them to go places and participate in things that they wouldn't otherwise be able to. Plus, if they choose to be active in community service, they'll develop relationships w/ leaders that may prove beneficial when they get older. ------------------------ - What I want from you - ------------------------ If you managed to scroll (with or without reading) to this point... I want to know: 1. Who in your family might want to participate in this class 2. What kind of schedule (days, times) you'd prefer. 3. Any questions? This is a survey, not a promise. I appreciate your input.
-- Charles Boling, AD7UF http://www.mmsherc.net

If you know anyone locally who might be interested in a class like this, feel free to pass the word along.