A new club at WB Intermediate School in Cherryville connects its members with people around the world using technology over 100 years old.
Mark Reep, a longtime school counselor, became interested in amateur radio in 2006 when he obtained his radio operator license. He remembers getting his bachelor’s degree because he enjoyed communicating with people in faraway lands and learning about their cultures.
Now he shares this interest with the students.
“It’s one of the oldest forms of social media, I guess you could tell,” Reep said. “You can talk to people from all walks of life. I just spoke to a guy who is 103 years old. It’s pretty cool.
Thanks to a generous donation from the Donald and Carla Beam Family Foundation, fourth and fifth grade schools now have a radio setup of over $ 2,000, which has enabled Reep to launch the Falcon Radio Club.
Club members learn about the science behind amateur radio, also known as amateur radio. In its short history, the club now has more than 25 students. Falcon Radio Club has two groups of students, who meet on different days after school.
Getting involved in ham radio was an easy decision, said fourth-grader Alexis Dobson, whose grandfather also enjoys the hobby.
“Whenever he mentioned it once, I really cared about it and now I’m learning,” Dobson said.
Members of the Falcon Radio Club used amateur radio to talk to radio operators in Curacao, Puerto Rico, Germany, Dominican Republic, Italy, Saint Martin, Saint. Lucie and the Canary Islands.
Reep noted that communication with operators in these countries provides good lessons in geography and how the weather affects radio transmissions.
Reep helps his students through radio conversations, teaching them how to answer questions and how to ask questions.
These skills could be extremely valuable in helping a community in an emergency situation, such as a natural disaster, when cell phone communication and other conventional means might fail, Reep said.
“They need to communicate with someone they’ve never met before, who can speak a different language and who has a different culture,” he said. “It really forces them to focus on the power of their words and how they can use them in ways that help others. ”
Not only do students learn where different countries are located and how to communicate properly with operators, but they also receive hands-on lessons in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education.
But nothing can replicate the feeling of a student making their first contact with another operator, Reep said.
“Their eyes open wide because they realize, ‘Oh my God, I just sent my voice from where I’m sitting in this room through the airwaves to a person of 4000 people. . [or] 5,000 miles away in Africa or Europe, ”said Reep. “This is the coolest thing … They are so energized by it.”
Students of the club are encouraged to obtain their Amateur Radio Operator’s License. The communication skills they learn at the club could eventually lead them to a career in the public service, according to Reep.
Ideally, club members will be ready to access the Public Service Academy – a school-choice program that gives students at John Chavis Middle and Cherryville High Schools the opportunity to explore careers in law enforcement, firefighters, emergency medical care, government and criminal justice.
You can reach reporter Gavin Stewart at 704-869-1819 or on Twitter @GavinGazette.