by Kathy Powers
When The Salvation Army Ray and Joan Kroc Center in Omaha, Neb., partnered with the Salvation Army Team Emergency Radio Network (SATERN) to introduce youth to a new STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) program which covers the basics of ham radio through a wide range of science topics from electricity to satellites and storms, we thought our biggest challenge would be to spark the interest of our youth who have technology at their fingertips with the internet and cell phones.
Would we be able to interest them in this hobby and bring something new to ham radio? Through social media, email blasts and by flashing walkie-talkies, it worked! Really, what kid doesn’t want to play with a walkie-talkie?
Classes filled up with 20-plus students eager to learn about amateur radio and the subsequent hobbies that spur from it. The first class was an eye-opener as youth created working electronic circuits. We could see their excitement and happiness as they completed the circuits when light bulbs lit up and fans began turning. Everyone was excited about their accomplishments.
SATERN held weekly classes that explored different topics related to amateur radio including electricity, morse code, satellites, storms and emergency radio networks. The five-week session ended in January with Kids Day on the Radio, where students used their new skills to reach other young enthusiasts across the world. Through this new Kroc Center partnership with SATERN, we’ve found another way to ignite sparks of learning and to build confidence in youth.