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Transatlantic Co-operation on New Ham Radio Comic

Transatlantic Co-operation on New Ham Radio Comic

Teams of school children from both sides of the Atlantic have, in conjunction with Icom, produced the third volume of the successful series of Zack & Max comics. The third volume entitled 'Mady Goes to England' was produced by a team comprising children from The Priory L.S.S.T. School in Lincoln, England; and children from the Lake Washington Ham Club (KC7OIO) at Franklin Elementary School in Kirkland, Washington. Employees from Icom America and Icom UK also contributed.

David Condon K17YP, teacher at Franklin Elementary School who was the leader of this transatlantic project said, 'Early on in the project, our inspiration was taken from one of our students, Jannah who was in my 4th grade class at Franklin Elementary. Being from England, Jannah provided us the basic starting information for the story. She told us about her daily routines and answered questions about life in the U.K. Our next piece of good luck came from an advertisement from Ian Lockyer M3INL, Marketing Manager of Icom U.K. who posted a request on the Internet as well as in Practical Wireless and Radcom. We were looking for a school in England that wanted to jointly write this comic book. In response to the advertisement we were put in contact with Mr. David Mackinder G4DWP, and his students at The Priory L.S.S.T. School in Lincoln, England.

He added, ‘Each school spent 3 months writing the story, planning out the scenes, and communicating with their counterparts across the Atlantic. The 9-to-11 year olds worked very hard putting the story together; they gave up break time and came into class before school. They posted their work to computers and passed scripts back and forth from Kirkland to Lincoln. More than just stories were exchanged. Friendships were started. Finally, after the story was submitted, Kayoko Nakajima, a professional cartoonist living in the Seattle area again brought the Zack, Max and Mady characters to life.’

David went on the say, 'Both schools were overjoyed to have volume three completed. We were given a deadline of December 6, 2004 to have the project completed. Nine students wrote nine different versions of volume 3, each volume having about 120 cells. They set the art work and the story line. Then all nine students met and agreed on one final copy. In addition thanks to Icom UK, we were able to connect to the school in Lincoln where we exchanged script lines back and forth between the characters.'

David added, 'Both schools worked very hard on the project. The most exciting thing about the project is that volume three was about goodwill. The friendship that developed between the two schools was truly "goodwill." We sent the students in Lincoln a signed "Max" the ICOM pig. The students in Lincoln sent the students in Kirkland a signed "Max" the ICOM pig in the shape of a clock that was designed by them. I really have enjoyed working with David Mackinder, the teacher at the Priory LSST school, in Lincoln. We had a great time on the project. '

Commenting on the success of the comics, David said,’ These comics are extremely helpful to radio clubs because it shows kids, in kid friendly language that is written by children, that radio can be for youngsters too. The feedback we got from these comics is tremendous. Amateur radio operators love these comics because they can obtain the different volumes and share their hobby with children. These comics are allowing older HAMS to connect to a new generation of HAMS.‘

David added, ’at our school we have just graduated 41 students and parents with amateur radio licenses. In our program it is required that the parent take the radio class along with the student (if the student wants a license). We do that so that the students from the very start get the support they need to have radio gear after they earn their license. The connections the parent and the student make with each other as they both learn radio is wonderful. I believe David Mackinder at Lincoln is planning the same format for next year.’

David Mackinder G4DWP, Teach of Technology from the Priory LSST School in the UK said, 'Over the last school year 'Zack & Max' it has really captured the imagination of my radio club members. The school is delighted with the outcome of the comic. In particular, it is the fact that it portrays young people using Amateur Radio to further their technical knowledge coupled with the theme of promoting goodwill between different nationalities. During the time the comic has been in the making we have also been running a Foundation Licence course at the school. On Tuesday last week Mia and Nikiwe, who both appear in the comic, passed their test along with four of the boys. We are currently waiting for call-signs to be issued. My priority is to be able to start a Priory LSST school club net on 2m in the evenings. It might be possible for us to link-up with schools in the US via Echo-Link. I would also like to run 2m Foxhunts at school.

As to the future, David Condon said,' we have plans for volume four. We are just waiting for that phone call from ICOM of America to ask us to start. I might add, if approved by ICOM of America, volume four will have an international flair too. '

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