Provided by Prince William County Schools (PWCS)
“NA1SS, this is KM4TAY for our scheduled contact,” were the call letters heard in the school-wide assembly at Antietam Elementary on Dec. 11. One of only 20 schools chosen from around the world, Antietam’s students made contact with Astronaut Mark Vande Hei aboard the International Space Station (ISS) via amateur radio. Antietam Elementary was awarded this rare opportunity after applying to the Amateur Radio on the International Space Station (ARISS) program.
In preparation for the event, students participated in a variety of science activities to learn about the ISS and life in space. Some of these activities included learning how astronauts use their senses, Mars exploration, and the effects outer space has on the human body. This all culminated as students zeroed in on a projected path of the ISS, as it precisely aligned with Antietam ES.
Ham-tietam, the school’s ham radio club, currently has 30 students. The Woodbridge Wireless Amateur Radio Club helped establish the club and continues to mentor the students. Ham-tietam has tripled in participation since its inception three years ago. When asked why ham radio is popular with students, Marcia Wieduwilt, principal of Antietam, shared, “It gives students the opportunity to see the world beyond their own community. “
With help from staff, administrators, and the Woodbridge Wireless Amateur Radio Club, Antietam ES students are given real-world application to academic subject matter. The sky’s the limit for Antietam Elementary School.