Educator Resources

The following lessons have been designed by licensed educators and peer-reviewed. You are permitted to change any of the activities to fit the needs of your students. Click on the + sign next to the curriculum level and then click on the title of the lesson to navigate to the lesson page where you will find the teacher guide, lesson plan, and all student pages. The asterisks following the title indicate which project the lesson originated from please see the bottom of this page for more details.

Middle School Curriculum
CubeSat Model Building**

This lesson will help students visualize the size and scope of cube satellites (CubeSat). First, students will use a printable template to build a cardstock CubeSat model. Then they will research what tasks a satellite of this size can accomplish.

Introduction to Radio Wave Communication**
Students will learn about the history of radio spectrum communication technology. They will investigate and experience Morse Code, explore radio history with a digital scavenger hunt, and investigate materials that can block radio waves.
Introduction to Satellites**
Students will learn about satellites as they participate in a research project. The research will be presented in poster form which will be shared with peers through a gallery walk.
Radio Frequency Technology**

During this lesson, students will investigate the different technologies they may use every day that rely on radio frequencies. Students will brainstorm types of technologies that use these frequencies. After sharing their thoughts, students will work in small groups to research the device and create a presentation. Groups will share their presentations with the class.

The Importance of Radio Astronomy**

Students will learn about the importance of radio astronomy to the study of space. After reviewing radio waves students will participate in a hands-on activity that models how radio telescopes work. Once they understand how the data is collected students will investigate one of the telescopes and learn about the important work done at that location.

Understanding FM Radio**

Students and adults alike listen to the radio with little thought as to what the FM and AM band numbers actually mean. This introductory activity will offer students some local context to radio frequency and extend their thinking to where those signals come from and how else they are used. Students will have a chance to tune a radio receiver and explore radio waves.

Weather Predicting**

Students will learn how satellites are used to predict weather. Then the class will use images from the satellites to predict thunderstorms.

Who Decides If You Get 5G?**

During this lesson, students will discover what 5G phone coverage is and develop an understanding of why some areas have it while others do not. They will take one of three positions on the topic of 5G and debate the most appropriate use of certain frequencies. Finally, students will learn about the economic side of 5G as the class discusses spectrum auctions.

High School Curriculum
Aircraft and Newton's Second Law of Motion*

This lesson introduces students to how planes are tracked using radio waves. The lesson continues as students collect data on local planes and use this information to calculate the net force acting on the aircraft according to Newton’s second law of motion.

Argumentation and Radio Waves*

Students will learn about a device that can receive radio signals in the classroom. They will research methods of improving reception and use that knowledge to create a solution to the problem.

A Radio Astronomy Design Project**

During this lesson, students will be introduced to Radio astronomy and the telescopes that are used in the discipline. They will then be challenged to design a dish for a brand-new telescope.

Diffraction of Radio Waves**

During this lesson, students will learn about the wave and particle nature of electromagnetic waves. Students will also learn about the diffraction of light and conduct an experiment to determine the thickness of a piece of hair. Students will also observe the diffraction pattern of burning gas when viewed with a diffraction grating, thus understanding how astrophysicists know the compositions of stars. Students will also learn about how diffraction of electromagnetic waves affects telescope resolution and what can be done to mitigate the effects as well as learn about how radio signals diffract when hitting the edge of an obstacle, dispersing the signal and causing weakened signals.

Electromagnetic Waves*

In this lesson, students will learn how electromagnetic waves are created. They will also participate in four learning stations to help them better understand the creation and properties of these waves. Lastly, they will make a 3-D model of an electromagnetic wave that they will use as a learning tool.

Electromagnetic Spectrum*

In this lesson, students will learn about the categories of electromagnetic waves. They will investigate the uses and dangers of one type of these waves and share their findings with peers. Finally, they will debate how one section of the spectrum should be used.

Hearing and Seeing the Invisible**

Students will understand how data from radio telescopes are used to create images of celestial objects. They will further explore ways to enhance visual representations of the data by including sound using Afterglow Access sonification software tool.

How Radio Waves Changed the World**

Students will choose a radio wave application that they would like to research and compile the most pertinent information to present and share with the class about the uses and applications of radio waves. Students will work in teams of 2-4 people to research, create, and design the best digital and oral presentation.

How to Design Your Own Crystal Radio**

Students will research how a radio sends and receives AM and FM signals. Students will then design and construct a crystal radio. Finally, students will demonstrate their knowledge of how a radio works using electromagnetic radiation by creating a presentation, flier, or poster to showcase their expertise.

Investigating the Internet Connection**

Students will use their knowledge of radio frequencies to design and carry out an investigation of Wi-Fi strength around the school. The data will be analyzed and presented to school staff in an effort to improve connectivity.

Investigating Spectrum Users*

During this lesson, students will see the radio waves passing through their areas visualized on the screen in the classroom. Next, students will work in small groups to identify the broadcasters of these waves. Lastly, students will work independently to write a persuasive essay about how the spectrum should be shared among users.

Is Radio Wave Technology Safe?**

Students will investigate and discuss the health effects of radio frequencies. Then they will present their argument in an eye-catching presentation.

Local Wireless Communication**

The students will learn about the fundamentals of the electromagnetic spectrum. Radio frequency will be emphasized, especially its usage in science, astronomy, wireless communication and modern applications. Finally, the RTL-SDR dongle will be presented to the students. This device will be used to identify local radio broadcasters.

Marine Animal Tracking and Bathymetry**

Students will use their knowledge of seafloor features to learn about the movements of marine organisms (e.g. sharks).  They will gain an understanding of how marine animals are tagged and tracked with satellite technology as well as gain insight regarding the pros and cons of learning about animal behavior.

Measuring Sea Surface Temperatures with Satellites**

Students will learn how satellites collect data and communicate that information with researchers on Earth. Students will use this data to create a thermal map using isotherms. Lastly, students will use the satellite data to determine changes in sea surface temperature.

Mechanical Waves*

This lesson reviews the fundamentals of mechanical waves. First, teachers will instruct students in the parts and movement of waves. Then students will work in small groups on several short inquiry activities that will allow them to understand the characteristics of waves.

Satellites and Society*

The lesson begins by introducing students to how satellites are involved in worldwide communication. Students will first learn about the basics of satellites, including the different sizes and orbits. Then the class will focus on investigating specific satellites. Finally, students will read about how satellites may interfere with other spectrum users. The lesson will conclude with a discussion on the topic.

Simple Wireless Communication**

Students will use their knowledge of the electromagnetic spectrum to build a spark gap transmitter. The device generates pulses of radio waves that are detected with an AM radio receiver.

Spectrum Management*

Students will investigate the local users of the spectrum and learn about additional users that are not in their area. Then students will work in small groups to create a priority list of spectrum users. The lesson will conclude by students comparing and contrasting their priority list to the priorities set by the federal government.

The Uses of Radio Waves and Frequency Allocation **

This lesson describes the extensive use of radio waves. Students will learn that radio frequencies have numerous applications, and require government regulation to prevent interference and unfair competition. In addition, students will have a chance to investigate their own questions regarding radio.

Weather Forecasting and Radio Waves*

Students will learn about how weather satellites work and then analyze some of the pictures created from the data. Students will also learn how Doppler radar works. The lesson concludes with students writing a paper about the role of radio waves in weather forecasting.

Informal Education Curriculum
Modeling Radio Astronomy

During this activity, participants will gain an understanding of how radio telescopes collect and analyze data.

* These lessons were created by the National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO) as part of the National Radio Dynamic Zone (NRDZ) project. They were created by an experienced classroom educator who also has a Ph.D. in Science Education and a certificate in K-12 Integrated STEM education. These student-centered lessons combine hands-on activities, inquiry investigations, and small and whole-class discussions to build a deep understanding of radio frequencies. The NSF-funded NRDZ project has developed an NRDZ concept definition, designed and developed a prototype advanced spectrum monitoring device, and increased awareness of spectrum-related issues through educational programs. If you would like to learn more bout this program please click here.

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** These lessons were created during a summer teacher experience that was part of the SpectrumX program. Educators were recruited from across the US and its territories to participate in Radio frequency workshops which were hosted by spectrum experts. The educators then used that knowledge and best practices to create these lessons. SpectrumX is an NSF-funded Spectrum Innovation Center that focuses on research, education, and workforce development. If you would like to learn more about SpectrumX please click here.  

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The educators attempted to incorporate culturally inclusive/responsive elements and best practices in the lessons during both projects. If you use a lesson or portion of a lesson in your classroom please fill out the feedback form. Your input will help us improve the quality of resources present on this page.  

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