Something I learnt recently…

Published: 21 Jan 2015 By: Mr Winstanley

Long ago, before Facebook, Twitter and email, amateur radio operators were the original social media pioneers. I found out recently via our popular school radio club that they’re still out there, in greater numbers than ever, chatting and messaging each other all over the world without an Internet connection or even a telephone line.

Here at Castle Rushen we have several youngsters who have gained their amateur radio license. The International Amateur Radio Union (IARU) decided that the month of December should be made the month of youngsters on the air, Castle Rushen’s club took the opportunity to get more of our students interested by moving our radio kit to a different area of the school.

Over the three days we contacted 582 stations, with our greatest distance being Brazil, and our most prized contact, Iceland (there are very few radio amateurs in Iceland, so contacts to there are rare). This despite radio conditions being very poor on the Friday, this was due to a solar storm disrupting the ionosphere.

The photo of our world map shows which countries we made contact with

The photo of our world map shows which countries we made contact with

What I liked about the experience was the positivity of the conversations, unlike a lot of social media, radio users don’t appear to bad-mouth each other over the air. There was a respectful tone to the conversations, even when others users had less than perfect English and we didn’t speak their native tongue. I also noticed that radio communication is more person-to-person than an anonymous posting on the Internet or a tweet that nobody reads. The students involved appeared to be getting a certain thrill from contacting a new country and pinning the result on the board. As a geography teacher I also liked the geography learning this exercise involved. Yet another unique and interesting facet to learning here at Castle Rushen High School.

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