I'm trying to make learning of the NATO alphabet interesting for kids.
I am a superfan of activity-based education. To help a Caribbean island nation prepare for its upcoming hurricane season, we staged Haminica 2016 in Roseau, Dominica for over 50 secondary school and university students, their teachers and security staff. We created formal emergency messages for two-student teams to pass to each other using HamSphere, the internet simulation of ham radio.
It was an eye-opening experience for all. Numerous issues, with clear analogs to "real world" emergency challenges, had to be solved on-the-fly to keep the event going. Plus, not only does HamSphere include simulated static (QRN) and signal fading (QSB), but stations from all over the world were constantly interrupting our stations to make contacts for award points. The interference (QRM) felt all too real!
The students found it extremely difficult to accurately pass the messages, but their efforts were saved by use of the NATO phonetic alphabet. With patience and determination, they gradually achieved their goals and the smiles of satisfaction proved glowing testimony to the sense of accomplishment they felt.
(NTRC's George James and two Dominica students at Haminica 2016)
The students' struggles stood in stark contrast to the abilities of seasoned operators to pass similar messages much more quickly. As a result of this training exercise, more than a dozen participants obtained their amateur licenses and made tangible contributions to Dominica's stabilization and recovery from Hurricane Maria in 2017.
Without provoking anxiety or alarm, it's important for the kids to understand that we are all just one severe weather event or internet attack away from a communications emergency. Knowing how to use the NATO phonetic alphabet can make a life-or-death difference when it really counts.
Special thanks to OH2BH, Dominica's NTRC and the country's ham operators for making Haminica such a rousing success that Dominica plans annual repetitions.