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May 21, 2018 – R. Fisher

Are you looking for something to keep those busy bodies engaged on summer break?  

How about something that is almost free, combines the concepts of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math and is so practical and fun they won’t even realize they’re learning. 

If so, follow along, because unless you know a Ham Radio Operator, you’ve probably never even heard of it. 

So let’s dig in and see why Ham Radio is one of the Greatest STEM Opportunities for kids you’ve probably never even heard about. 

What Is Ham Radio?

Ham Radio, or as its officially titled, the Amateur Radio Service, is a license issued by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), which allows U.S. citizens privileges to operate within designated frequency bands reserved for Ham Radio Operators.

In other words, the license allows you to use specific radio frequencies to communicate with other Ham Radio Operators, experiment with technology, design software, send emails, tinker with WIFI, control remote controlled vehicles, talk to the International Space Station, and a whole host of other things!

I Know, Exciting, right?

How Is Ham Radio A Great STEM Opportunity?

Ham Radio is all about experimenting and learning. Here are just a couple of examples:

After obtaining my license, one of the first things I did was build an antenna.  Building an antenna greatly increases your ability to hear and contact other Ham Radio Operators and involves Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math, and it’s not a complicated process. 

Recently, I began working on building and setting up an Allstar Link.  This involves a Computer or Raspberry Pi, Electronics, and a small amount of coding.  It gives me the Opportunity to talk to other Ham Radio Operators anywhere in the World by merging a Radio with the Internet.

There are so many things that can be done with a Ham Radio License, the possibilities are endless.

Ham Radio provides opportunities for you to share STEM with your kids, family, school, or the community in which you live.

How Do You Get A Ham Radio License?

In the U.S., there are three Amateur Radio licensing levels, Technician, General, and Extra. Each level allows the Operator more frequency privileges. 

Getting licensed is as simple as passing a 35 question multiple choice knowledge exam.

And the best part, there are no age restrictions for obtaining a license, and there are tons of exam locations for you to take your little puddle jumpers. 

The American Radio Relay League has created a database for locating exam sessions in your area, which you can find here. 

The 35 questions used for the exam are drawn from a pool of questions and are available for study. 

The American Radio Relay League has an online question pool study section that is available free of charge and can be found here. 

Additionally, you can purchase any of the many books available, below are a few books that I have used as I prepared for my Technician Exam. 


What If My Kids Are To Little To Take The Exam?

Don’t let that slow you down, if you think your kids are to little to take the exam or comprehend the material, you have another option known as third party traffic.  

This option allows you to take the exam and still introduce your little ones to the world of Ham Radio. 

Once you are a licensed Operator, your kids can communicate with you at their side.  This is a great way to get people comfortable with using a Radio and understanding the concepts.

This Sounds Expensive, Can I Afford To Get My Kids Involved With Ham Radio?

The simple answer, Absolutely.

The only fee associated with obtaining a Ham Radio License is $15.00, which covers administrative costs for the Local Ham Operators that Volunteer their time to setup and Proctor the examination.

By using free software such as Allstar Link or EchoLink, you can connect with other Ham Radio Operators all over the world with only a Computer or Cell Phone and the Internet.

Is Ham Radio Safe For Kids?

There is no better community than that of Ham Radio.  The Amateur Radio Service polices itself and strives to strictly follow the FCC rules.

Rarely, if ever, will you hear foul language on a Ham Radio transmission.

The Ham Radio Community is comprised of so many people that are there to provide guidance and knowledge on questions you may have about most any topic in Ham Radio.  Many of them have already experimented with something that may interest you or your kiddos, just ask, someone will be glad to help.

What Are You Waiting For, Summer Will Be Over Before You Even Know It

If you need more specific information about taking the exam or Ham Radio in general check out my other article, 3 Meaningful Reasons You Should Get Your Ham Radio License.

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The $15 STEM Opportunity for Kids You've Probably Never Heard About