SpectrumX partners with NRAO to develop electromagnetic spectrum lessons for middle and high school students

By Valarie Bogan, NRAO and SpectrumX partner

During the summer of 2022, SpectrumX, along with its partners at its member institution the National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO), conducted a six-week virtual professional development program for ten middle and high school teachers. The educators were selected from across the United States through a competitive application process. The participants were chosen based on their experience creating original lessons and interest in incorporating more electromagnetic (EM) spectrum curricula into their classes.

“Many middle and high school teachers do not include lessons on the radio frequencies in their electromagnetic spectrum curriculum. This omission is due to two factors: first, many teachers lack a deep understanding of this portion of the electromagnetic spectrum and second, the lack of ready-made lessons they could incorporate into their curriculum. This professional development program was unique because teachers received instruction on radio frequencies and support while they created lessons to use in their classrooms,” said Valarie Bogan, SpectrumX curriculum specialist and partner at the NRAO.

The program began with two weeks of workshops created by EM spectrum experts from SpectrumX partner institutions, including the University of Virginia, Olin College of Engineering, and the University of Colorado Boulder. During Zoom sessions, the teachers learned about many spectrum-related topics, including EM spectrum basics, amateur or ham radio, satellite communications, meteor radar, wildlife tracking, and radio frequency (RF) interference.

During the program’s last section, each participant created two EM spectrum-based lessons for use in their classroom. Since these lessons will eventually be available to teachers nationwide, the educators collaborated with their fellow participants to be sure each lesson was unique. When completed, the lessons were carefully reviewed by a peer from the program and Bogan. Each participant revised both of their lessons by the completion of the program. 

Currently, the participants are piloting these lessons in their classrooms and will then make revisions based on their observations. Finally, all twenty lessons will be uploaded to TeachEngineering.

The lessons will be available to all teachers during the summer of 2023.

The featured image indicates the locations of the participating educators in the program.

About SpectrumX

SpectrumX is funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF) as part of its Spectrum Innovation Initiative, under grant number AST 21-32700. SpectrumX is the world’s largest academic hub where all radio spectrum stakeholders can innovate, collaborate, and contribute to maximizing social welfare of this precious resource.

To learn more about SpectrumX, please visit spectrumx.org.

Christina Clark, Research Communications Specialist
SpectrumX / Notre Dame Research / University of Notre Dame
cclark26@nd.edu / 574.631.2665