November 2, 2021 – ARISS‐USA is known for promoting Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics (STEAM) by arranging live question/answer sessions via amateur radio between K‐12 students and astronauts on the International Space Station (ISS). In the last two decades, over 1400 contacts have connected more than one million youth using amateur radio, with millions more watching and learning. ARISS is constantly pursuing opportunities to enhance and sustain our educational capabilities and outcomes.
ARISS-USA is pleased to announce that Amateur Radio Digital Communications (ARDC) awarded a 5-year grant for a project called, “Student and Teacher Education via Radio Experimentation and Operations” (STEREO). Total grant funding over five years is nearly $1.3 million. This ARDC grant will fund three distinct initiatives that enable ARISS to sustain and improve STEAM educational outcomes:
Part 1: ARISS is developing a wireless electronics technology kit called “SPARKI”, short for “Space‐Pioneers Amateur Radio Kit Initiative” for use with middle and high school students. This ARDC grant will take SPARKI from prototype to operational and then deploy these kits into a selected set of ARISS formal and informal education organizations that are planning their ARISS radio contacts.
Part 2: To be successful, ARISS must “Educate the Educator” by creating awareness of ARISS, amateur radio and SPARKI to prospective formal and informal educators in the USA. ARISS‐USA will conduct educator workshops for a selected set of educators to aid them in seamlessly employing SPARKI in their education environment and for ARISS to receive their feedback and ideas.
Part 3: The grant will support some of the costs of ARISS contact operations between students and astronauts aboard the ISS over the five-year grant period.
ARISS-USA Executive Director Frank Bauer welcomed this news by saying, “ARISS-USA is so excited about this new 5-year initiative. It will be a STEAM education game changer and represents a key element of our ARISS 2.0 vision. Most importantly, it brings wireless technologies and amateur radio into our ARISS formal and informal classrooms. We thank ARDC for their interest and support and look forward to working with them on this incredible initiative!”
ARDC’s mission is to support, promote, and enhance digital communication and broader communication science and technology, to promote Amateur Radio, scientific research, experimentation, education, development, open access, and innovation in information and communication technology. ARDC makes grants to projects and organizations that follow amateur radio’s practice and tradition of technical experimentation in both amateur radio and digital communication science. Such experimentation has led to broad advances for the benefit of the general public – such as the mobile phone and wireless internet technology. ARDC envisions a world where all such technology is available through open-source hardware and software, and where anyone has the ability to innovate upon it.
Amateur Radio on the International Space Station (ARISS) is a cooperative venture of international amateur radio societies and the space agencies that support the International Space Station (ISS). In the United States, sponsors are the Radio Amateur Satellite Corporation (AMSAT), the American Radio Relay League (ARRL), the ISS National Lab‐Space Station Explorers, and
NASA’s Space Communications and Navigation program (NASA SCaN). The primary goal of ARISS is to promote exploration of science, technology, engineering, the arts, and mathematics topics. ARISS does this by organizing scheduled contacts via amateur radio between crew members aboard the ISS and students. Before and during these radio contacts, students, educators, parents, and communities take part in hands‐on learning activities tied to space, space technologies, and amateur radio. For more information, see www.ariss.org, www.ariss-usa.org.
Rita M. DeHart, PE
ARISS-USA Director of Public Engagement