Expos in Finland. OH2BR shares his experience.

How can a young person get information about Amateur Radio? During my school presentations I have discovered that virtually nothing about our hobby is known to the youth. Naturally, it does not belong to the “Top Ten” hobbies in modern society, maybe not even in the “Top 100”. We have so many popular sports, music and art hobbies that is impossible for radio amateurs to compete with them in getting the attention of youth. Computers are extremely popular among youth; however, for Amateur Radio today computers are a cornucopia of useful information and a multitude of operating aids.

altAmateur Radio is basically a technical and even a scientific hobby if we go deep enough. It is hard to avoid some kind of crafting in Amateur Radio, be it small gadgets or simple wire antennas. First you have to have a station – radio and antenna – before you can operate, so it is only logical that you have to build a radio station if not the radio itself. There seems to be an early instinct among children to disassemble all kinds of devices to find out what they are made of. This curiosity is the driving force behind many youths drifting towards electronics constructing, in general, and Amateur Radio, as one of its areas of implementation.

From the early years of technological progress there have been a number of exhibitions dedicated to inform the public, in some cases especially youth, of existing technical hobbies. In Finland, for instance, the event called Model Expo has been organised for large audience from 1981. In the past, there may have been an Amateur Radio stand at Model Expo built by enthusiastic individuals, however, a concerted effort on national level (SRAL) was made only in the year 2009 and then again the next year. Unfortunately, in 2011 Amateur Radio stand was missing due to lack of sufficient number of hobby demonstrators.

In 2010 there were more than 60,000 visitors during the three days of April in Model Expo. This high number may be partly explained due to the fact that there were two simultaneous events in the adjacent premises, Child 2010 and Pet 2010. It is only natural that many parents come with their children to see what these three exhibitions have to offer. Model Expo´s main focus is constructing models of cars and airplanes, many of them having radio control devices. SRAL has been the only organisation in the realm of electronics; therefore our stand has been favored by the organizers of the exhibition.

In 2009, SRAL stand did not show anything connected with constructing. We soon understood that it was a mistake from our part and we corrected that in 2010. As a result, we enjoyed much greater interest from the visitors as we offered the youth a possibility to try their hands at soldering and verify the quality of a solder joint through a microscope. Three young boys joined the youth training camp after getting the feeling about electronics constructing.

CW and operating a radio station are popular bates used in marketing Amateur Radio but constructing should never be neglected in presentations at schools or exhibitions. There are lots of those seemingly quiet kids wanting to try something new and think if this would be something that they would like to do as a hobby or even as a profession. As radio amateurs we have to take care of disseminating information about our hobby. Exhibitions like Model Expo as well as SciFest in Joensuu OH7 offer us the possibility to reach a great number of youth.

Check the SRAL Youth Photo Gallery for related pictures.