Boston College – On Thursday, August 5, students from the St. Columbkille Summer Camp at Boston College participated in a unique demonstration of an old technology that is still new today – Amateur Radio.
Phil Temples, K9HI, a staff member in the Boston College Computer Science Department, and Eric Falkof, K1NUN, an employee of the Hewlett-Packard Company explained some basic principles of radio theory to the 5th, 6th and 7th graders in attendance. The presentation was one of several activities comprising the Camp’s Science & Technology curriculum.
Falkof used a Slinky toy to demonstrate the basic concepts of frequency and wavelength. He also demonstrated an operational shortwave station complete with a vertical antenna mounted on a stepladder, and Morse code telegraph keys made from paper clips, a doorknob, and a block of wood. The campers then completed a fun quiz in the Morse code and the international spelling alphabet.
Several lucky campers had the opportunity to speak directly over the radio by voice to a local ham operator in the Boston area. Later, the group spoke with an individual who was driving in his car near Huntsville, Alabama.
Although ham radio is as old as radio itself, amateurs have made great strides in modernizing the hobby service. Temples described and demonstrated how computers and the Internet are reshaping what we define as radio. Temples connected – by radio linked via the Internet – with nodes in the Midwest and Ireland.
The campers were excited to learn the Morse code, and talking to a stranger a thousand miles away seemed a bit weird, but the excitement of a practical use of science for personal fun is a memory that will not fade quickly. They learned about the many aspects and uses of ham radio – including first-hand that it’s a party line of excitement, learning, and friendships over the air.
For information about teaching Amateur Radio in the classroom, see <http://www.arrl.org/amateur-radio-in-the-classroom>. Information about the St. Columbkille Summer Camp can be obtained by contacting the Boston College Office of Governmental & Community Affairs at (617) 552-4787.[See also: St. Columbkille Summer Campers Explore Amateur Radio as Part of Sci-Tech Curriculum]