In the fall, students in the outlying districts of La Paz County will get to do what very few people could ever dream of.
They will talk with astronauts on the international space station.
It will all be the culmination of a project that began on Jan. 13 when students from Ehrenberg, Salome, Quartzsite, Bouse and Wenden were bused to the Quartzsite Community Center and met people involved in radio communication as part of Radio Science Day.
“This is such a great opportunity for these students and we are glad to assist in this project,” said Heather Caton, who led the day’s classes with Gordo West.
Those classes went from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., then the community got to see presentations from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m.
Students were given colored wrist bands when they entered the center and were sent to seven stations to learn about radio communication. Radio science, amateur radio and space research were the topics, and hopefully inspire students to seek careers in science, technology, engineering and math.
The students were broken down into groups according to their colored wrist bands; there were seven “stations” set up for them. The radio program hoped to get the students engaged in project management, problem solving and teamwork.
The students rotated through the stations that focused on different parts of radio work. They met with radio experts, transmitted over the air, learned Morse Code and phonetics, plus learned about ham radio and had fun with interactive demonstrations.
There were more than 250 students that participated in Radio Day, which also taught about ham radio communications by having the kids participate with other ham operators.
The children learned about “on the air” communication, which included handling “traffic” techniques. Another aspect was solar power and how it works and is used in radio communication.
Caton and West are part of the Amateur Radio on the International Space Station. ARISS, along with the Radio Amateur Satellite Corporation and the American Radio Relay League, accepted a proposal to have youth around La Paz County speak to with astronauts onboard on the international space station.
Caton—also the president and CEO of the World Genesis Foundation—said there were 17 proposals submitted across the nation and La Paz County was selected.
She wrote in an email: “When a community works together, amazing things can happen. Radio science, amateur radio and space research have proven their ability to inspire and lift youth up into learning in careers in science, technology, engineering and math. This amazing opportunity for our youth was made possible by so many people in our schools, towns, organizations and businesses working together to make it happen.”