Grant: Jasmine and Jose Build a Radio and the Engineering Challenge: Build a Radio

Date: March 2022
Amount: $52,600

Since 2008, Science is Elementary has empowered generations to better the world through science and scientific thinking. The multifaceted program serves over 15,000 underrepresented students annually, along with their teachers, families, and surrounding communities, from Oakland to Gilroy in the state of California. Their work is focused on low-income communities of color, to increase diversity, inclusion, and belonging in STEM. Intense pressure to meet accountability goals in math and English has limited time for science education in elementary schools, and teachers and schools did not have the infrastructure needed to consistently provide students with quality science learning opportunities. Only 44% of elementary school principals believe their students get a high quality science education and only 17% of teachers feel prepared to teach physical science. This pandemic has impacted students nationwide by limiting instruction time, and has exacerbated previous achievement gaps. This has potential lifetime ramifications. This grant from ARDC will support two related projects that aim to introduce young children to the joy of amateur radio, and understanding the science behind it.

The first project is an SiE book entitled Jasmine and José Build a Radio, targeted at seven year-olds. The SiE Books series features diverse protagonists who solve problems using science, so students underrepresented in the sciences see themselves as scientists. The series provides high quality, hands-on, offline science content, along with an adult companion to engage families. All books distributed include materials needed to do the experiments, down to paper and tape. This ensures all families, even those with very limited means (e.g. in homeless shelters) can participate. In this book Jasmine and José will visit a family friend who is an amateur radio operator. They will be intrigued by the radio and build a simple one on their own. Children will learn basic science, and follow along with Jasmine and José’s step-by-step illustrated instructions to build their own radio. Funding for this project will produce 2,240 kits which will include the books, adult companions in English and Spanish, and all materials needed to complete all the projects in the book. These will be distributed free of charge to students in Title I schools in the SF Bay Area. In keeping with ARDC’s open access mission, a PDF of the book and the adult companion will be available for free online.

The second project is an “onsite” field trip for fourth grade students. These two to three hour-long activities that will be brought to school sites (rather than having classrooms leave school for a field trip). This field trip will build on SiE’s existing lessons on waves, energy transfer, and electricity. Students will be challenged to work in teams to design and build a radio using simple components, after learning the fundamental science behind radio. The current lessons track the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) so while developed in California, it will be applicable in other states, allowing the project to be shared widely.

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