West Virginia School to Build Telescope, Coding Workshop

Trinity Christian School won a grant from the Society of Amateur Radio Astronomers to build a hydrogen line radio telescope. The school is also launching a summer coding workshop for the public.

STEM
(TNS) — Trinity Christian School was awarded a STEM Grant from the Society of Amateur Radio Astronomers (SARA) and will also offer a Coding Workshop this summer.

In March, Marcus Fisher, an adjunct teacher at TCS, submitted a proposal to SARA for a STEM Grant that provides a kit to build a hydrogen line radio telescope. TCS was selected for the grant.

The STEM Grant covers the necessary hardware and software for building a hydrogen line radio telescope that will be mounted on the school and used by the science classes.

"Our computer science class is going to build the telescope and program it, " Fisher said. "Our other science classes will use the data that comes from the antenna and do science experiments."

The antenna will be tuned to detect the radio frequency the element hydrogen gives off in the universe. When a sample of the radio in the universe is taken, students can map how much hydrogen is seen and be able to read and look at the Milky Way Galaxy.

"This is huge, " Fisher said. "It's cutting-edge, you don't see middle and high schools building a telescope in order to conduct experiments on the Milky Way Galaxy."

Fisher was looking into diversifying TCS's science classes by adding a project that isn't a traditional engineering and cybersecurity project. He also wanted to connect students with more hands-on projects and conduct science.

"This grant is an example of the momentum that is building in the school's computer science program. It is so rewarding to see our faculty's vision come to fruition, " said TCS Superintendent Michelle Stellato.

SARA, the Society of Amateur Radio Astronomers, was organized in 1981 and is an international society of dedicated enthusiasts who teach, learn, trade technical information and do observations of the radio sky. It is a scientific, non-profit group founded for the purpose of supporting amateur radio astronomy.

TCS's Coding Workshop this summer is open to any public, private and home-school students 6th through 12th grades, as well as teachers and parents.

The workshop is perfect for students wanting an introduction to coding or to mature their coding skills, as well as educators who are interested in learning how to code and offer coding at their home institution.

The Coding Workshop will teach students and educators programming in Python.

Python is a free, open-source programming language that anyone can use. Anyone attending the workshop will learn the basics of data structures, problem-solving, python language, development tools and the Pygame development modules.

As students and educators complete the workshop, they will walk away with an understanding of the Python programming language as well as a fully functional video game they design and code.

"We are so excited to offer this new program to local educators and students, " said Jeannine Kelley, director of School Advancement. "We are excited to give local educators and students the opportunity to develop their coding skills over the summer."

The cost for the Coding Workshop is $150. Attendees will receive copies of the material suitable for their own classrooms. Scholarships will be awarded on an individual basis as determined by a demonstrated need.

The workshop is a three-day program from 8:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m. June 28-30 at 200 Trinity Way, in Trinity Christian School Advanced Makers Laboratory (Room 210).

The workshop is offered as a class at TCS, but Fisher wanted to create a summer workshop for those who don't attend TCS and are interested in learning about coding and problem solving.

"We should be teaching computer science and cybersecurity in every school in West Virginia, but the biggest challenge in teaching it is that there is no one teaching it, " said Fisher. "The only way we can get there is if we start equipping new and current teachers with the knowledge, skills and tools so that they can teach it."

The Coding Workshop will be instructed by Fisher, who has been teaching computer science at the university level for over 20 years and at the middle and high school levels for over three years. For the last five years, he has been trying to enhance West Virginia's education system by providing hands-on programming, electronics, robotics and cybersecurity training for students and teachers. Fisher has also worked at NASA for over 20 years as a computer engineer, software engineer, and systems engineer.

For more information about TCS Coding Workshop, contact Fisher at mfisher @tcswv.org.

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