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ARISS Receives Generous ARDC Grant for ARISS STEREO Education Project


Best known for arranging amateur radio contacts between students and astronauts, Amateur Radio on the International Space Station (ARISS) has announced that it’s received a generous grant to fund its “Student and Teacher Education via Radio Experimentation and Operations” (STEREO) project. The 5-year Amateur Radio Digital Communications (ARDC) grant totaling nearly $1.3 million will fund three distinct initiatives that will enable ARISS to sustain and improve science, technology, electronics, arts, and technology (STEAM) educational outcomes.

For Part 1 of the project, ARISS is developing a wireless electronics technology kit called “SPARKI,” or “Space Pioneers Amateur Radio Kit Initiative,” for use with middle and high school students. This ARDC grant will take SPARKI from prototype to operational phase. ARISS would then deploy these kits among a selected set of formal and informal education organizations that are planning future ARISS radio contacts.

In Part 2 — “Educate the Educator,” ARISS will conduct educator workshops for a selected set of educators to help them seamlessly employ SPARKI in their education environment and allow ARISS to receive their feedback and ideas. To be successful, ARISS must create awareness of amateur radio, ARISS, and SPARKI among prospective formal and informal educators.

For Part 3, over its 5-year lifetime, the grant will also support some of the many costs involved with ARISS contact operations between students and astronauts aboard the ISS.

ARISS-USA Executive Director Frank Bauer, KA3HDO, said ARISS is extremely excited about the new 5-year initiative. “It will be a STEAM education game-changer and represents a key element of our ARISS 2.0 vision,” Bauer said. “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 grants target projects and organizations that follow amateur radio’s practice and tradition of technical experimentation that has led to broad advances for the benefit of the public. These include mobile phone and wireless internet technology. ARDC envisions a world where technology is available through open-source hardware and software, and where anyone has the ability to innovate upon it.

In the last 2 decades, more than 1,400 ARISS ham radio contacts have connected more than a million students using amateur radio with millions of others watching, listening, and learning. ARISS is constantly pursuing opportunities to enhance and sustain its educational capabilities and outcomes.




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