Belmont First-Graders Want to “Ham It Up”

FirstMs. Donna LaRoche’s first grade “HAMsters” are learning about ham radio—and geography—and reading—and writing—and much, much more.

“Ham radio is such a great teaching tool!” exclaims Belmont school teacher Donna LaRoche, M.Ed. “The kids absolutely love receiving greetings from hams around the country, and seeing their QSL cards.”

Incorporating ham radio into the classroom curriculum is a relatively new project for LaRoche. “I’ve received a lot of great material from (ARRL Headquarters staff member) Mark Spencer (WA8SME).” Spencer is the Amateur Radio Education and Technology Program Coordinator (a.k.a. “The Big Project”). Martin Bayes, AA1ON, has also contributed time and energy to the project, including material for the HAMsters’ web site.

LaRoche says that her kids really enjoy using the code practice oscillators to send morse code to one another. “We have a radio. It doesn’t work at the moment, but the kids love to pretend that they’re on the air with it.”

A recent request for an actual ham radio demonstration and “real ham operators” in the class room on an EMA club mailing list netted several interested volunteers, including ARRL Public Information Officer Bill Mc Ininch, KA1MOM. LaRoche is delighted by the response. The first demonstration is slated to take place at the Winn Brook school in Belmont in the very near future.

“Please ask all hams to stop by our web site and leave a guest book greeting for the class.”

The Winn Brook school’s “HAMsters” web site can be found at

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