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Columbiana students gain STEM skills with ham radio

Morning Journal/Danielle Garner Eighth-grader Katie Campbell, 13, speaks on a HF ham radio with Elizabeth Campbell, 9, behind her while club member Savannah Howard, 12, watches classmates log the information onto a computer.

COLUMBIANA — While serving as a school resource officer Sergeant Wade Boley took an interest in students’ lessons involving the electromagnetic spectrum. Boley approached middle school science teacher Ashlee Sherwood and offered to help.

“I offered to do a lab for the teacher on the electromagnetic spectrum,” Boley explained. “The kids loved it.”

Boley introduced night vision, alternative light sources and other tools showing how the items use the electromagnetic spectrum.

In Fall of 2018 Boley started the Columbiana Clippers Amateur Radio Club known as K8LPS.

Now, every Tuesday students gather around a HF ham radio with 100 watts of power output donated by Graft Electric in the high school biology room.

What started as a group of students studying radio and electric theory a few years ago has grown into an amateur radio and electronics club. Students learn about circuits, Low Earth Orbiting Satellite communications, and other related content while achieving awards and building the knowledge to take a Federal Communications Commission exam granting students a radio license.

“I seized the opportunity to maybe get an amateur radio,” Boley said. “We probably had 20 kids show up the first year.”

Student Katie Campbell, KE8LQR, explained the after school club helps her develop skills communicating, studying, networking, giving presentations, developing leadership, mathematics, and much more.

“Amateur radio in general has helped me in every aspect of my life,” Campbell explained.

Campbell applies herself to studying more and feels rewarded by her time and efforts achieving her goals. The inspiration Campbell received from a close family member has contributed to how much she enjoys ham radio. She communicates with people all over the world, including England.

According to Boley, students speak with HAM radio users in Europe and Asia.

“It’s really fun when the kids get a new station they have never heard of or a new place they have never heard of and they go and look it up on the map,” he said.

Boley teaches students how electronic components interact, reading circuits and interpreting schematic diagrams.

“It’s a road map, instructions to read an electronic circuit,” Boley explained.

Amateur Radio is the ultimate STEM activity and is immersed in science. Students touch on engineering, mathematics, technology, geology and atmospheric science, according to Boley.

“It goes into the humanities, too, because they learn communication skills,” Boley said.

He is confident in an emergency situation the students participating in radio club have the ability to copy and forward messages.

Students interested in participating are encouraged to email high school Science teacher Colleen Campbell (KB8VAQ) at colleen.campbell1@columbianaschools.org. All schools within the community including home schooled students are encouraged to attend. Campbell will send meeting times, location, a photo release and other materials.

“Passing knowledge and skill of amateur radio onto the next generation was my ultimate goal in the whole thing,” Boley said.

According to Media Aid Bridget Wolsonovich, the club has increased the knowledge of club advisors, including students.

“It helps the kids become better communicators,” she said. “You’re trying to decipher what it is saying, and understand the technology behind the way it works.”

Boley enjoys seeing the next generation outshine himself and others. Wolsonovich watches students’ abilities reach beyond expectations.

Students who pass FCC exams and receive licenses are provided with a new amateur radio. Recently two students have become newly licensed HAMS, one as young as fourth grade.

Boley invites the community to get involved by sponsoring K8LPS. K8LPS has received support from both Graft Electric and the Community Foundation already. Those wanting to donate are encouraged to donate at the high school campus. K8LPS would like to get a site survey done to establish a permanent antenna.

dgarner@mojonews.com

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