For over 100 years, amateur radio has enabled people from all walks of life to experience electronics and communication skills, as well as providing a vital public service to their communities during disasters, all without the need for ‘a cell phone or the Internet. The Estes Valley Amateur Radio Club (EVARC) has 33 active members who talk to other radio amateurs across the country and around the world on their shortwave radios. They also provide emergency communication services when needed. Immediately after the 2013 floods, when travel was impossible and all other forms of communication were unavailable, EVARC provided safe and sound calls to residents and visitors, family and friends outside of the city. valley of Estes.
Outreach activities are an important part of EVARC’s mission. Over the past two years, EVARC has expanded its outreach activities with Estes Park public schools. In February 2020, EVARC organized a school club rally event with the high school. The club installed a shortwave radio in the common area of the high school. Students in Sarah Schmidt’s classes were able to talk on the radio to participating high school clubs and other radio amateurs across the country, with the help of EVARC members. They carefully recorded the calls and noted the states on a map as the calls to the new states were completed. The goal was to see how many contacts they could make during School Club Roundup week. For this event, the school obtained its own amateur radio call sign, W0EPH. In the coming year, EVARC plans to organize two school club gatherings with students. These events will include primary and middle school students as well as high school students.
In February 2021, EVARC worked with Grade 5 students and teachers to host an event where students were able to talk to an astronaut on the International Space Station as it passed overhead. EVARC provided the shortwave radios and an antenna tracking system for this event, which took place at the Estes Park Memorial Observatory. Grants were secured for the purchase of the equipment and months of planning and testing were required to achieve a successful ISS contact. Elementary teachers Polly Greenblatt and Ravi Davis worked closely with EVARC and prepared their grade 5 students well. As a result, the students were able to ask the astronaut 18 questions during the ISS’s 10-minute pass over Estes Park. In the weeks leading up to contact with the ISS, EVARC presented a program on radio and space technology for grade 5 students and retired astronaut Loren Shriver presented a program on his experiences as a space shuttle astronaut. Both programs were followed by question-and-answer sessions with the students.
Plans call for the shortwave radios and the tracking antenna to remain at the EP Memorial Observatory for use by students and EVARC amateurs. The ISS, as well as several amateur radio satellites, have radio repeaters that can be used by amateur radio operators to contact other radio amateurs around the world. Plans call for students to use the EP Observatory’s radio equipment to establish their own contacts with the ISS and satellites, with help from EVARC, as they learn about the technologies. radio and space communications.
Recently, EVARC organized a weeklong Amateur Radio Licensing course attended by fourteen enthusiastic students. There were nine 5th grade students, one high school student and four adults in the class. At the end of the week, they all passed the FCC exam for the Amateur Radio Technician License. We are proud to announce that nine students have passed the exam and received their FCC amateur radio license. See photo below. EVARC paid for textbooks and licensing exams, and gave each student who passed the exam a portable ham radio. Two weeks later, we met the students again to show them how to assemble and use the radios. EVARC encourages students who have not yet passed the exam to continue their education and try again this fall.
Over the next school year, Ravi Davis will teach in sixth grade at middle school while Polly Greenblatt will stay with the elementary students. Both teachers now have their amateur radio licenses and have completed additional training this summer in radio technology. They plan to use their new training and knowledge of amateur radio to integrate radio technology into their STEAM curriculum. EVARC will consult with teachers to help plan these activities. Discussions are underway on a possible amateur radio course for students in the fall and a student amateur radio club may be formed in the future.
For more information on the Estes Valley Amateur Radio Club, contact club president Bob Leavitt (KE0SDV) at email@example.com or come to one of the club meetings. EVARC meets every month at the Estes Valley Memorial Observatory on the first Saturday of the month at 8:00 a.m. The next meeting is September 4th. Membership is not compulsory and everyone is welcome.