Thank you to Gene Pentecost W4IMT and his team!
Galileo STEM Academy
Around April 1, 2019, you may have seen a report that began this way:
Based on its Contact Proposal, Galileo STEM Academy, Eagle, ID, was informed February 3, 2019, its plan had been accepted for an ARISS (Amateur Radio on the International Space Station) contact during the period July 1 to December 31, 2019. Announcement of this award was circulated in the Treasure Valley ham community shortly thereafter.
At that time, we had completed the antenna design and build phase, as well as getting a ham club established. Now, with hosting courtesy Touchmark at Meadow Lake Village, a retirement community, we completed the promised public demonstration, Saturday, May 18, 2019.
The venue was the front lawn of the Meridian, ID, Touchmark site. A 10 ft. x 20 ft. tent was divided into two activity areas. One was a dedicated area where students used story boards to brief visitors and explain their ARISS/STEM projects. Facing the opposite direction was the support area to answer questions and house the operating position for the satellite system. A 60 inch TV monitor was coupled to a laptop stocked with files to help visitors understand ARISS, STEM, Amateur Radio, and other related subjects. Power was furnished by a generator and Wi-Fi from a hotspot smartphone.
Event time, 12:00N to 2:00PM, was chosen to coincide with good passes of AO-91 and AO-92. Ten students, under parental supervision, arrived one hour earlier. Except during satellite passes, the interaction between students and visitors was largely freeform. Using their storyboard and class made antennas, they explained the program and what they had learned. Visitors asked many questions which the students readily fielded.
During passes of AO-91 and AO-92, students demonstrated to visitors how their antennas, connected to an inexpensive HT, can be used to monitor satellite conversations in real time. An additional treat was their listening to W7GSA. (This is the call sign to be used during the ISS contact.) Our licensed operator made about ten contacts from the event site. (This was a shakedown run using the actual hardware that is headed for Galileo STEM Academy for ISS contact.)
The original idea for a ham to man the 60 inch TV monitor and interface with visitors took a turn for better. As questions began to be answered, three of the students took an interest in the operation. After a fairly brief time, our ham operator decided to defer to the students. Finally, he just turned it over to three students. It became an attraction for visitors. They were not so much impressed with what they learned, but with the knowledge and enthusiasm of the students. And THAT is what STEM is all about!
As a result of the diligent communications person at Touchmark, we were visited by two local (Boise) TV channels: 6 and 7. There were two on camera interviews with at least one aired. In the days just prior to the event, there was one newspaper article and one TV interview was aired. We are very proud of our STEM students and we want the public to know.
This event and the end of the school semester signal the completion of Amateur Radio support for the education portion of the Galileo STEM Academy Contact Proposal. But all signs point to continuation of the Ham Radio Club through support from the school. This is being reinforced by the recent announcement both Gina Kwid and Beth Bivens, our ARISS/STEM program teachers, have been awarded an expenses paid professional development seminar trip to the ARRL Teachers Institute on Wireless Technology. We are proud of you!
Our team will now concentrate on preparing for the first week of September ISS contact.
TNX and 73,88 to all,
Gene Pentecost W4IMT
Ham Radio Team Lead
(Required ARISS photo release documents for every student are on file.)
Mobile Satellite Antenna System
Stephen Nipper, N7DJX, has extensively reworked the satellite antenna system loaned to use by the Voice of Idaho ARC. There is a weather proof box attached to the mast that houses an amp/preamp and its power supply. The structure is light weight and bolted to the trailer. This will allow us to transport the system, remove the bolts, then mount it to the lift required to clear the school roof line.
On behalf of all associated with the ARISS activity, I say: Thank you, Stephen.
TNX to all who helped and 73, 88
Gene Pentecost W4IMT