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Student-Led ARISS Contact a Success


 A student-led contact with astronauts through the Amateur Radio on the International Space Station (ARISS) program was a great success that earned significant media attention. On Monday, December 11, students at Harbor Creek High School in Harborcreek, Pennsylvania, used amateur radio to talk with Astronaut Andreas Mogensen, KG5GCZ.

The students are part of the Advanced Technologies Group, KC3SGV, an after-school club at Harbor Creek. Fifteen of the students are licensed radio amateurs. As ARRL News reported last week, their faculty advisor, Assistant Principal Drew Mortensen, AC3DS, is a graduate of the ARRL Teachers Institute on Wireless Technology. He utilized what he learned in the program and brought it back to the school. The ARISS contact is just one of the many successes the program has had.  

ARRL Education and Learning Manager Steve Goodgame, K5ATA, was on hand for the contact, and he was impressed by the skills demonstrated by the students.  

Goodgame recalled, "From antenna assembly and installation to the actual control operator function of the radio during the contact itself, students were at the helm. Every student who asked a question of Commander Mogensen was a licensed amateur radio operator. When I asked what they had planned next, the response was, 'Well, the logical step would be to build and get a CubeSat launched.' This is exactly the type of program we hope to help create as an outcome of the Teachers Institute," said Goodgame.  

Local, regional, and national media took note of the students' success. Local television newscasts (see Amateur Radio in the News below) featured the event, and NBC Journalist Harry Smith and a crew from NBC's TODAY were at the event to tell the story about the young hams.  

This type of exposure for amateur radio is key to growing the hobby, according to ARRL Public Relations and Outreach Manager Sierra Harrop, W5DX. "The passion of these teenage operators led to this success story. Who doesn't love the story of young minds doing extraordinary things in STEM through amateur radio?" she exclaimed. ARRL Director of Development Kevin Beal, K8EAL, mentioned that the media coverage demonstrates the impact that the donors who have funded the Teachers Institute have on the future of amateur radio. Beal said, "The reach goes far beyond the one-week training institute and ripples out farther than we can see."  

The ARRL Teachers Institute on Wireless Technology is funded by the ARRL Education and Technology Fund. If you are interested in supporting STEM education through the Teachers Institute on Wireless Technology, visit  

ARISS is a cooperative venture of international amateur radio societies and the space agencies that support the ISS. In the US, participating organizations include NASA's Space Communications and Navigation (SCaN) program, the ISS National Laboratory -- Space Station Explorers, ARRL, and AMSAT.



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