AMSAT, the Radio Amateur Satellite Corporation, introduced a new youth initiative program rudin its Hamvention® forum in May. According to the AMSAT News Service, the program has been in the planning stage for two years and “takes a radically different approach to introducing youth to amateur radio and satellites.”
AMSAT Development VP Frank Karnauskas, N1UW, noted that satellite use is pervasive in virtually everything we do today, from tracking climate change and forecasting the weather to broadcasting and military operations. “Our message to youth,” says Karnauskas, “is ‘Satellites in Space Help Us Live Better Lives Here on Earth,’ ” adding that once young people’s interest is engaged, the program can involve them in “experiences and exercises that then use amateur satellites and amateur radio as their ‘laboratory’ or ‘classroom.’ ”
The initiative is community-based and will work directly with young people, their parents and youth organizations, relying on two websites – KidzSat.com for kids in grades 5-7 and BuzzSat.com for teens in grades 8-12 – which will provide age-appropriate activities and exercises. Participants will also have access to a network of online software-defined radios (SDRs) that will let them receive images and telemetry from active satellites as they pass overhead.
The Quarter Century Wireless Association (QCWA) is supporting the program through a $4,000 grant to help pay the costs of developing the online lessons and network of SDR ground stations.