ERIC Identifier: ED426693
Publication Date: 1999-03-00
Author: Ninno, Anton
Source: ERIC Clearinghouse on
Information and Technology Syracuse NY.
Radios in the Classroom: Curriculum Integration and
Communication Skills. ERIC Digest.
Teachers have explored the use of radio in the classroom almost since radio
technology entered into the mainstream of society, yet radio remains a
relatively unused mode of instruction. This Digest describes several radio
applications and summarizes several radio activities for the classroom.
TEACHING THE HISTORY OF COMMUNICATION
Students may begin
their study of communications technology by reading about some early devices and
their inventors. Radios and telegraphs are part of early communications
technology history, and Samuel Morse, Guglielmo Marconi, Lee DeForest, Philo
Farnsworth, and David Sarnoff were communications pioneers.
The first popular radios were called crystal radios because they used
crystals to receive the broadcast signals. Building a crystal radio, either from
a kit or from parts, is an engaging, hands-on science activity. In addition to
building the crystal radio, earth science and chemistry teachers might consider
making the galena crystals that receive the signals. Many early crystal radio
listeners made their own galena crystals before radios were sold in stores.
Teachers can also use radio assembly projects to help students learn about
electricity, wave energy, the electromagnetic spectrum, the earth's atmosphere,
and the sun's effects on the earth's atmosphere. Many popular electronics stores
have a full range of reasonably priced, easy to assemble electronics and radio
AM-FM RADIO: HANDS-ON GEOGRAPHY AND LANGUAGE ARTS
Depending upon your geographic location, you may hear many AM-FM
radio stations from Canada, Mexico, Central America, and the Caribbean. If you
are near those regions, you will hear broadcasts by English, French, and Spanish
native speakers-a special opportunity for foreign language learners. Some AM-FM
stations now maintain Web sites and offer their listeners real-time programming
and audio archives. Listening to online audio resources requires computer
software such as RealAudio, a sound card, and speakers.
Many U.S. AM stations may be heard across the country. Listening to
broadcasts from other U.S. locations makes an excellent activity for learning
U.S. geography. The term DX means long-distance, so listening to faraway
stations is known as "DXing" among radio hobbyists. In the evening, AM radio
broadcasts are heard over great distances because atmospheric conditions allow
AM radio waves to bounce between the atmosphere and the earth. Students might
hear AM broadcasts from several hundred miles away if they listen to AM stations
INTERNATIONAL SHORTWAVE BROADCASTS: HEARING THE WORLD ON A
Just as an AM-FM radio is a tool for students learning about local and
regional geography, a shortwave radio is a good tool for learning about world
geography. Every country in the world has shortwave radio broadcast stations,
and most stations have programming in English, as well as their native language.
Beginning with 6th-grade social studies curriculum, the study of geography may
be enhanced by listening to international shortwave broadcasts. Students will
hear news and cultural programming that will enhance the information found in
books, encyclopedias, and on the Internet. Topics such as latitude and
longitude, time zones, continents, hemispheres, and the tropics may all be
highlighted through radio listening activities.
Writing letters to international stations to give listener reports is a
long-standing shortwave listening hobby activity. The writing assignment
combines listening and language arts skills. Stations usually reply with letters
or special postcards, brochures, posters, key chains, and bumper stickers.
Teachers may use these items to prepare interesting displays in a classroom
NOAA NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE BROADCASTS
Many people listen
to a radio to hear weather reports; however, in a classroom it's not always
convenient to wait for a radio station's weather report. With a weather radio,
you don't have to wait. Weather radios are tuned to the NOAA (National Oceanic
and Atmospheric Administration), weather channels that provide broadcasts 24
hours a day. Most NOAA broadcasts range about 50 miles from their main location.
Many AM-FM radios, scanner radios, and CB radios include NOAA channels for
listeners' convenience and safety. NOAA also coordinates a national program for
trained volunteer weather watchers called Skywarn. Teachers may wish to consider
Skywarn training for a class weather project or for individual science projects.
SCANNER RADIOS: HEARING THE WORLD OF WORK A scanner radio will bring the world
of work into the classroom. These high-speed scanning receivers monitor
government, businesses, and nonprofit organization's frequencies in your local
community. Unlike the shortwave radio, a scanner radio receives local FM
communications and broadcasts within a range of about 50 miles. Since the
conversations you hear on a scanner radio are between people, there is no way to
know when they will occur. A scanner radio scans through many frequencies and
stops when a transmission signal is detected. The listener will hear many
transmissions, and it is important to program the scanner radio to listen to the
public service agencies desired. Some occupations that use scanner radios
include: police, fire, hospitals, ambulances, aircraft, schools, universities,
factories, warehouses, boats, taxis, city buses, delivery trucks, utility
companies, TV and radio news crews, the FBI, mall security, hotels, and
AMATEUR RADIO: PRACTICING HANDS-ON COMMUNICATION
Many students today build their own web pages; however, students in
the 1950s and 60s, built stereos and radios with kits from companies like
Heathkit. Many students earned amateur radio licenses from the Federal
Communications Commission (FCC) and built their own ham radio stations. Today,
most ham radio operators buy ready-made radio equipment, and many enthusiasts
listen to packet radio (connections between radios and computers) or participate
in ham satellite communications. Other ham radio operators communicate with the
NASA Space Shuttle and the Mir Space Station via amateur radio. Not long ago,
the FCC eased the requirements for the entry-level ham license by eliminating
the Morse code requirement. Students and teachers can now become No-Code
Technician Class operators by passing two multiple-choice exams. Study guides
for these exams include the entire FCC question pool, as well as full
explanations for each answer.
Kindergarten-age students have earned licenses,
however most young hams are in the middle and high school grades. Many schools
across the country and around the world have amateur radio stations. Students
can practice speaking, interviewing, listening, and writing skills in an amateur
radio school club or classroom activity. Some teachers use the amateur radio as
the communications link for school-to-school projects. Real-time radio
conversations allow students to practice listening and speaking skills-a
valuable experience that is not found with an e-mail connection.
Radio technology offers a unique way for K-12
teachers to integrate technology into the curriculum. Elementary teachers can
help students learn basic electricity and regional geography in entertaining
ways using AM radios. Social studies teachers will appreciate shortwave radios
as a tool for teaching U.S. and global topics. Science, physics, and earth
science teachers can use radios to demonstrate the properties of electricity,
wave energy, weather, and the earth's atmosphere. English and language arts
teachers will be able to use radios to reinforce listening, writing, and
speaking skills. With a shortwave radio, foreign language teachers can provide
advanced students with an opportunity to hear the authentic language
demonstrated by native speakers. Teachers without Internet connections will find
radios an accessible technology for bringing the world to their students.
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