In anticipation of our Go Galactic! Fall Festival on October 13, Upper Elementary has been exploring man-made satellites of the 21st century. We have compared polar orbits to geosynchronous orbits, examined how a rocket transports satellites into space, taken a virtual tour of the inside of the International Space Station, investigated space junk, studied the forces that keep satellites in orbit, marveled over the cost of satellites, and investigated which countries currently have satellites in orbit.
As a part of the larger extension activity for our satellite study, students have conducted research on modern satellites, investigated satellite components, and crafted models of them using primarily recycled materials. In addition, our class is taking a closer look at NOAA’s GOES and POES fleets to learn how these high-tech machines orbiting Earth transmit weather data to meteorologists.
Using special software, a quadrifilar helix antenna, and a very sensitive wideband FM receiver optimized for reception of NOAA APT and similar weather facsimile images on the 137 MHz band, we will attempt to receive data from NOAA-19 as it orbits above us. NOAA-15 and NOAA-18, two other APT satellites in orbit, are also capable of interaction with our equipment. A campaign is currently underway to raise money for the purchase of this equipment.
In addition to satellite studies, we have examined the OSIRIS-REx mission in detail. Having made a close pass by Earth on September 22 in pursuit of an asteroid called Bennu, the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft is particularly intriguing to the children. They have posed thoughtful questions about how, in 2020, this spacecraft will use its arm (TAGSAM) to grab a 2-ounce sample of regolith from an enormous, 4.5 billion-year-old carbonaceous mass thought to hold keys to unlocking the mysteries surrounding the formation of our solar system.
Now in its third season, The New School Montessori Center’s Amateur Radio Club has grown to 10 students ranging in age from third year to sixth year–our largest group yet. This fall, we are proudly operating in a fully-equipped ham shack consisting of a 2m radio, an HF radio, an antenna tuner, and two rooftop antennas. All of the radio equipment in our ham shack was donated to us by local amateur radio operators.
Our club’s fall project list includes bouncing radio signals of off SaudiSat 1C, studying and modeling AMSATS, getting acquainted with HF, creating robotic bugs and flashing LED hearts with a demonstration of soldering, live satellite tracking, assembling a 45-watt solar panel kit and, of course, enjoying lots of local 2m contacts on the radio. Later in the semester, I will introduce radio astronomy with the Itty Bitty Telescope (National Radio Astronomy Observatory) loaned to our club by Mr. Mark Gibson, N4MQU. On October 11, segment host Mr. William Continelli (W2XOY) from This Week in Amateur Radio will visit our school to record a podcast about our amateur radio journey in a Montessori environment. This Week in Amateur Radio is North America’s Premier Amateur Radio News Magazine.
I had the honor of being accepted into ARRL’s Teachers Institute—an intensive, hands-on, week-long course held on the campus of ARRL Headquarters in Newington, Connecticut, July 24-28. As part of the national educational outreach to schools through the Education and Technology Program, ARRL (American Radio Relay League—The National Association of Amateur Radio) offers two annual sessions of the Teachers Institute on Wireless Technology—a selective, expenses-paid professional development seminar. The Teachers Institute provided me with a bounty of books, kits, tools, online resources, networking opportunities, and strategies for introducing basic electronics, the science of radio, space technology, satellite communications, weather science, introduction to micro-controllers, and basic robotics into the classrooms here at TNS.
It is a privilege to be able to introduce children to the tenets of scientific literacy through project-based learning and personal inquiry. I would like to thank each of my students for inspiring me to be a lifelong learner. It is my hope that they will find enduring inspiration through the educational journey we take together.
“To stimulate life, leaving it free, however, to unfold itself–that is the first duty of the educator.”
With warmest, geeky regards,
Nancy Butterfield, KM4KUT