Fall 2008 Issue

Contact: Another First
(On Earth)


A growing number of school teachers are finding

creative ways to use amateur radio in the classroom

as a learning tool. Here VE3NCE describes how he

used amateur radio to teach about archeology, as

well as expose his students to the benefits

of amateur radio communications.

By Neil Carleton, VE3NCE

 

Grade 5 teacher Neil Carleton, VE3NCE, and his
students in room 24 at R. Tait McKenzie Public School,
in Almonte, spoke via amateur radio with archaeologists at Murphys Point Provincial Park. (Photo by Jennifer Eldridge, Almonte Gazette)

With this first call, my Grade 5 students stirred with excitement at their desks as we launched our on-air connection with an archaeological site on the other side of Lanark County in eastern Ontario. It was the start of two successful contacts in which amateur radio linked the students in the classroom with archaeologists in the field at the Hogg Bay excavation site, near the town of Perth. This was a first in Canada—to have elementary students in the classroom connected by amateur radio with archaeologists at an excavation site.

As part of our Grade 5 social studies program, my students and I visited Murphys Point Provincial Park on October 2, 2007 to take part in a real archaeological dig. Details about this remarkable full-day program for Grade 5 classes are available at the website of the Friends of Murphys Point Park: <http://www. friendsofmurphyspoint.ca>; click at the top of the page on “The Hogg Bay Dig,” or click at the left on “Project” and then “Hogg Bay Project.”

My Grade 5 students, and the parent volunteers who helped out, said our visit to Murphys Point Park and the opportunity to take part in a real archaeological dig was the best field trip ever. Our two amateur radio contacts with the site archaeologists made it just that much better.

On Monday, October 1, the day before our field trip, half of the class had their questions about archaeology answered on the air by the archaeologists at the Hogg Bay site. As a follow-up to the visit, the other half of the class spoke via amateur radio with an archaeologist on Thursday, October 4, about their field trip observations and the things they learned.

These two special contacts were made with my classroom VHF amateur radio station. We sent our signals from the school to a repeater station on a communications tower at Lavant, about 40 kilometres to the northwest. Our voices were retransmitted by the repeater station at Lavant (VE3KGJ, 146.640 MHz) and heard at Murphys Point Park, as well as other locations across the region. The answers to the students’ questions were transmitted from temporary stations set up at the excavation site, and the examination location in the park, by volunteers of the Lanark North Leeds Amateur Radio Emergency Service (LNLARES).
The student voices from room 24 were also heard across eastern Ontario through three other repeater stations that are linked to the Lavant site at Christie Lake (VA3TEL, 145.230 MHz), Tweed (VE3RNU, 145.370 MHz), and Toledo (VE3HTN, 46.865 MHz). The coverage area of the four repeater stations extends from Stittsville to the east and south to Morrisburg on the St. Lawrence River, west to Picton in Prince Edward County, up to Havelock in the northwest, and over to Renfrew in the north. Listeners in New York State south of Brockville on the St. Lawrence River were also able to hear the students at R. Tait McKenzie talking with the site archaeologists at Murphys Point Park.

A dedicated group of very helpful and kind volunteers in the Perth area, from the LNLARES, were our community partners at the park for these special contacts. The radio operators on site for our contacts were Barrie Crampton, VE3BSB, Al Niittymaa, VA3KAI, and Tony Wilson, VE3XNT. George Ward, VE3GXW, was on hand to take photos on both days. Many thanks to the generous volunteers of the LNLARES group for making the radio component of our archaeological adventures such a success.

Special thanks as well to archaeologists Jeff Earl and Brenda Kennett for taking part in our unique amateur radio contacts. Your adventurous spirit and enthusiasm for the project were appreciated very much.

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