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Re: School Contact



In response to :

Alan Stumpf KB3DHC commenting on the recent school contact in the Pittsburgh
area

"Not that the school could have done any anything but the TV station reports
all stunk in my opinion. All they mentioned was using a radio down link the
school was talking to a Astronaut. One TV station was using the audio of the
contact with a picture of a orbital program showing the ISS over Canada no
where even near Pittsburgh yet."

We just did a school contact here in Bloomington, IL at the Challenger
Learning Center (August 16th). We had the local newspaper, a couple radio
stations and at least 2 TV stations there.  They were mostly interested in
the kids talking to the astronauts...that is the real story when you stop
and think about it.  They all mentioned that the contact was made possible
by help from the local radio club, so the club got a nice comment.  The
concept of what AMSAT is and how it supports the program is just too much
for them to cope with while doing a quick story.  The Pittsburgh station
probably shot their tape of the ISS display before the contact, and then
shot the kids while they were talking.

I functioned as the Contact Coordinator and here are my impressions of the
experience:

1. It was Great!
2. It was a lot of work!
3. Seeing the kids responses was priceless.
4. The crowd was generally very impressed with how well they could hear Mike
from the ISS.  Everyone I talked to left with a better impression of the
technical ability of amateur radio operators.  "You mean you are really
talking to the ISS with ham radio?" was the question of the day.  It was
very much a "Wow" kind of moment.
5. The local radio club members were terrific.  They helped with antennas,
feedlines, computers...everything.  They didn't have satellite experience
but they had plenty of radio experience and it showed.
6.  The students were definitely impressed that ham radio was "cool"... at
least that day! (we're working the group for potential new recruits)
6.  Did I say it was GREAT!

This was by far the most work AND the most fun for one QSO that I ever did.
The radio and TV stations all had us on the newscasts and we were on the
front page of the newspaper the next morning.    I consider that a huge
media success.  If you ever get a chance to help out by all means sign up!

Grant Zehr AA9LC
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