Spring 2006 Issue

The Orbital Classroom

Coordinating the Effort

By Dr. H. Paul Shuch, N6TX


The first-ever back-to-back ARISS QSOs took place on February 7, 2006. The first was with the Dale, Oklahoma public schools. The second was with the DeGolyer Elementary School, Dallas Texas. Students from the Dale school, plus others, are shown here gathered to listen to Expedition 12 Commander Bill McArthur, KC5ACR, respond to the DeGoyler school studentsí question. ARISS QSO mentor Keith Pugh, W5IU, is at the controls of the Dale ham radio station. (N6CL photo)

Having recently retired for the second time (the first retirement, in 2004, was from academia; the second, just recently, from industry), I was very pleased to accept appointment to the post of Director of Education for AMSAT-NA. This new column, which will appear from time to time in CQ VHF, is derived from material prepared for the AMSAT Journal, and appears here by the kind permission of AMSAT. I hope it will serve as a constructive forum for sharing educational resources, and thus furthering AMSATís educational mission.
Since its inception nearly four decades back, AMSAT has taken on an important role: bringing satellite technology into the classroom. Through our various OSCARs, SAREX, ARISS, and participation in the Cubesat program, many of us have exploited the mystique of space to captivate the interest and imagination of our students. However, we have not always done so in a coordinated manner. Coordination is a skill I most hope to bring to my new assignment.

My first priority as AMSAT Director of Education will be to promote integrated curriculum development at all levels (kindergarten through PhD), with emphasis on using satellites in the classroom to enhance the teaching of science, math, geography, social studies, technology, and the social sciences. To accomplish this, I have turned to the AMSAT membership to lend what significant resources and expertise already exist within our organization. I invite all teachers within AMSAT to share with me their current, past, or planned use of satellites in the classroom, their instructional materials, and their desires in terms of future curricular development. All current or former professional teachers, curriculum developers, and school administrators within AMSATís ranks are invited to sign up as official AMSAT Educators (sign-up instructions will appear in the Orbital Classroom section of the AMSAT website). You will receive not only a nice certificate, but an opportunity to contribute materially to a coordinated and redoubled AMSAT educational effort.

I respectfully suggest that one key aspect of doing anything in the U.S. educational arena is a need for those efforts to be tied to the federal No Child Left Behind act, as well as the published educational competencies and graduation standards established by the various states. I hope to work together with our cadre of AMSAT Educators to evaluate the competencies and standards in force in the individual states so that our curriculum efforts can tie in to them to the greatest possible extent. Of course, we being AMSAT NA, I rely upon the expertise of our Canadian and Mexican AMSAT Educators to bring me up to date on the educational standards and curriculum requirements throughout the rest of North America.

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