Communicating across the world

"A teacher could, for example, say 'Alright, we're going to go downstairs and we're going to talk to perhaps someone in a different country,'" said McGrath. "It's kind of neat because people aren't used to hearing someone coming out of a squawk box," said McGrath.

McGrath said the government regained an appreciation of ham radios during Hurricane Katrina and 9/11.

"These services were absolutely indispensible," he said.

In times when all other forms of communication were down or malfunctioning, different government agencies and emergency services were able to communicate with one another via ham radio. After these events, the government made it easier for people to learn how to become ham radio operators by creating programs to help teachers set up radios in their schools so that they could teach their students about using ham radios. McGrath said the exam for becoming a ham radio operator also became easier to pass.

"There's a pool of 500 questions for every exam. They only ask you 25 questions for every exam and the answers are out there on the Internet," said McGrath.

Male said eventually the school could serve as a ham radio center, should an emergency occur. She also said that the radio is quite versatile in the number of ways it serves the students educationally.

"It's really exciting for us because we have the tech piece and also the piece where kids are connecting to other countries, being able to sit down right at the ham radio station and answer their own questions," said Male. "It's just been great, we're hoping for [the program] to grow."

McGrath and Male said they hope to eventually make it onto a NASA list to speak with people in the International Space Station and other astronauts when they are in orbit.""

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