At some point, every teacher is posed with the same question: “When are we ever going to use this?” For Venice High School physics teacher Steve Case, it’s an easy question to answer. As co-founder of the school’s amateur radio club, his students regularly have the opportunity to apply their classroom lessons to real-world scenarios.
Case and Venice High math teacher Rob Lash founded the club in 2011 as a way to appeal to students who were interested in math and science outside of just the classroom. In their weekly meetings, students build radios and antennae, as well as learn their inner workings. Most importantly, says Case, they learn the value of one of the most reliable forms of communication.
“I originally got interested in radio communication because I was wondering what would happen if there was a hurricane and all the cellphone towers were down,” says Case. “How would we communicate? I started looking around, and I found out about radios. In natural disasters or emergency situations, licensed radio operators are often the only way people can communicate.”
In addition to learning about radios and making contacts in the classroom, students also attend local events, usually races, to volunteer their time as radio operators.
Recently, the club volunteered at the Sarasota Half Marathon, offering communication to assist runners and help the event flow smoothly. Case says working the events is one of the most fulfilling aspects of the club, and he enjoys providing the students an opportunity to apply their knowledge to real-life situations.
“I like seeing the kids get excited when they get to go out and use what they’ve learned,” says Case. “It makes you feel good when you can help out someone who has a need at one of these events.”
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