STEM education reaches new heights

6:20 PM, Aug 3, 2011   |    comments
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ARISSat-1 satellite prototype

Gould Smith loves space exploration.

"I remember standing off in a field watching the first Sputnik go over," he said.

He also loves ham radio

The two are combined in the ARISSat-1 amateur radio satellite. Smith has a working prototype in his West Knoxville home.

It's just like one launched into orbit Wednesday by Russian astronauts on board the International Space Station. It uses amateur radio frequencies to transmit messages from students in 15 languages.

"We produced all these different transmissions specifically for school children," Smith said.

He is the project manager for the ARISSat-1 project.

The satellite also records internal and external temperatures. The goal is to get students worldwide interested in STEM education (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math).

"We're trying to generate that same 'wow' experience from school children around the world. They heard these voices of other school children from space. They've found out what the real temperature is coming from space directly to them," Smith said.

All it takes to listen is a simple radio. Additional activities are available online.

"You can do real-time activities as well as get information off the internet and be able to graph things or study how it happened. We're generating a lot of those activities on the website," Smith said.

Smith and his team of volunteers built three other satellites. The others will be used to conduct different projects and experiments.

No timetable has currently been set for their launch.

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