Amateur Radio Digital Communications (ARDC) is helping high school computer science students become makers by providing a grant to purchase Raspberry Pi computers and Arduino microcontrollers. California High School computer science AP teacher Sean Raser said he believes that a hands-on approach is the most effective way for students to learn and retain knowledge. The class would aim to accomplish this through encouraging students to invent their own systems using the Raspberry Pis and Arduinos. By combining these devices with sensors, motors, other electronics, and computer code, students would have the opportunity to learn complex technical concepts first hand.
Raser’s challenge has been acquiring enough hardware for all students in his class. With limited resources, his program has been limited to a small number of students, however.
A $9,950 ARDC grant hopes to change that by allowing Raser to give all of his students the opportunity to participate. The funds will allow him to provide students with Raspberry Pi and micro:bit computers, Arduinos, and the other components.
Raser plans to transform part of his classroom into a makerspace that is accessible to all students at California High School, located in San Ramon.
“The results have been extraordinary. The students’ creativity and passion for learning truly thrive as a result of being able to bring their own ideas to life,” Raser said. One student, for example, is using a Raspberry Pi Zero and a variety of sensors to record flight data during a model rocket launch. Another has built an automated attendance taker using a Raspberry Pi and RFID sensors. Raser’s hope is that these experiences will nudge these students into careers as engineers and scientists.
ARDC is a California-based foundation with roots in amateur radio and internet technology. In 2019, ARDC announced the sale of some 4 million consecutive unused AMPRNet internet addresses, with the proceeds to establish a program of grants and scholarships in support of communications and networking research with a strong emphasis on amateur radio. ARDC, which manages AMPRNet, said it planned to provide monetary grants to organizations, groups, projects, and scholarships that have significant potential to advance the state of the art of amateur radio and of digital communications.