One of the biggest challenges facing the ham radio community is the lack of younger people getting their license and being active on the air. It’s fantastic to see ARRL The National Association for Amateur Radio actively encouraging younger people to engage with amateur radio.
Fourteen-year-old Emma had been an avid fan of electronics from a young age. She was always taking apart clocks, radios, and other electronics to look at their insides and see how they worked. When her father told her about the American Radio Relay League and the ham radio community, she was instantly interested. She knew that getting her license and being part of the community would be a great way to learn more about electronics and make some great new friends.
So, she started studying for her license exam and studying for the Morse code component. She was nervous about the exam, but she was determined to pass. Finally, the day came, and she nervously sat down for the exam. She was relieved to find out that she had passed and was now an official ham radio operator. She started calling CQ and was soon chatting with people all over the world.
Emma’s story is becoming more and more common in the ham radio community. Thanks to the ARRL and other organizations, young people are actively encouraged to become active on the air and join the ham radio community. Live streaming and access to remote stations are other ways to make it easier for younger people to learn about and participate in ham radio. These programs have been revolutionary in changing the game for younger people and providing opportunities for them to explore and contribute to the hobby.
Amateur Radio in the STEM Classroom
I believe that work to support STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) learning in schools through Amateur is an important way to help the next generation of young people to join the Amateur Radio Service and enhance their lives. Kits Builds, High-Altitude Balloons, and other Amateur Radio activities can provide practical applications and support for STEM learning programs that many schools are working to deliver.
Also, using wireless technology (Amateur Radio) as a starting point, instructors can build a solid foundation across multiple subject matters and grade levels integrating math, science, engineering, and technology, as well as other content areas, such as geography, reading, and writing into their classrooms.
As both a teaching tool and as a hobby, Amateur Radio has demonstrated a strong motivating influence that can lead to careers in computer sciences, consumer electronics, broadcast engineering, research sciences, medicine, telecommunications, and more.
I owe my engineering career to Amateur Radio, as the owner of the company that I worked for was also an amateur and understood the broad range of technical knowledge that amateur radio brings to the engineering field. In fact, he hired several amateurs just because they held amateur radio licenses.
Amateur Radio on the International Space Station
Through the work of dedicated ARISS (Amateur Radio on the International Space Station) mentors and ground stations, schools and other youth groups around the world have had opportunities to experience the excitement and learn about Amateur Radio and use it to communicate with astronauts on the International Space Station.
Amateur Radio is being used successfully in the classroom by teachers who have attended professional development workshops offered by the ARRL through their Teachers Institute programs.
Building circuits, tracking satellites, bouncing signals off of the atmosphere are just some of the broad range of Amateur Radio applications that can be used to achieve educational goals inside the classroom and beyond.
Beyond that, Amateur Radio encourages community involvement, while cutting across social, political, cultural, geographic, and physical handicap boundaries, contributing to the goal of sending forth truly educated graduates.
Get On The Air!
I believe that it’s also very important to introduce new hams and young hams to the Amateur Radio activities that many of us enjoy. We all should routinely make our stations available to new hams and young people so they can participate in on-air activities. A favorite activity is the ARRL Rookie Roundup—a contest experience that the ARRL sponsors for new hams to try out and learn about Radiosport.
ARRL Youth Licensing Grant Program
This program is designed to support young individuals interested in obtaining an amateur radio license. ARRL covers the one-time $35 FCC application fee for new license candidates who are under 18 years old and take tests administered under the ARRL Volunteer Examiner Coordinator (ARRL VEC). Additionally, candidates under 18 years old pay a reduced exam session fee of $5 to the ARRL VEC VE team at the time of the exam. The $35 FCC application fee is reimbursed after the new license is issued by the FCC.
These initiatives not only make it more accessible for young people to enter the world of amateur radio but also showcase the innovative and practical applications of ham radio technology in various scenarios, including emergency communications and public service events.
I support these initiatives and will work hard as your Great Lakes Division Director to advance programs like these that contribute to the future growth and vitality of the hobby and our youth.