Introduction – PSC students and teachers participate in an online course that teaches them about pulsar science and radio astronomy. The course is led by world renowned West Virginia University radio astronomers Dr. Maura McLaughlin and Dr. Duncan Lorimer. Once trained, PSC students (and you if you wish) gain access to radio astronomy data taken at the Green Bank Telescope. The data is reserved for PSC students and will not be analyzed by other scientists so any pulsar found is a significant scientific discovery. A sample of the data is available here.
By participating, your students gain training in astronomy and data analysis from experts in pulsar astronomy. They participate in authentic scientific research with the possibility of making publishable scientific discoveries. They will have the opportunity to interact with leading scientists and discuss their research with both scientists and other students. They may have the opportunity to present their research at a Capstone event at a local university. Students and teachers will also have the opportunity to apply to spend a week extending their research experience at a summer camp at the GBT.
How to Use the PSC experience – Teachers have used the data and training provided through the PSC in many ways:
- Many gather a group of interested students and form a club that meets either after school, during school club time. Students go through the training together and discuss challenging datasets. The additional social component of a PSC club is the most effective way to use the experience.
- Some teachers allow interested students to participate independently.
- Some teachers have each student go through the online training; some take the online training themselves and then provide face-to-face instruction to their students.
- For some students the activity is not connected to a class; for some students it is integrated into a science or astronomy class.
How does it work? –The level of your participation in the program is flexible; at the minimum, you are expected to form and “administer” a PSC club consisting of high school students (which could range in size from one student to many).
- Teachers apply to join the PSC through this short application. You will receive an email acknowledging and accepting your application. You will be directed to register yourself and your school on our database site: psrsearch.wvu.edu.
- The registration process will require you to upload a permission letter from the principal of your school.
- Once that is done, your account is activated, and you create a school team name.
- You direct students to register on the same site, selecting your school and team name. They will see this confirmation page asking them for signed consent forms
- You will activate their accounts upon receiving signed parental consent forms.
- Encourage students to persist and conduct enough research to be eligible for opportunities such as Capstone seminar and PSC Camp at the Observatory in Green Bank.
- Take the online training yourself, either with your students or ahead of time. The easiest and best way to do this is to join us for our facilitated workshops. The next one starts October 12. This entitles you to come to PSC Camp too, an excellent expenses paid professional development experience.
- Recruit students, form a club and meet regularly. You are instrumental in providing the encouragement, and facilitating access to PSC astronomers and staff for your students. Students with the support of a dedicated teacher do well and go far. These are the students who do the work and become published authors, whether or not they discover a new pulsar.
Getting Set Up with School Permission
- PSC-Signup or PSC-Signup (pdf) Step by step instructions on getting permissions/consent forms and registering students as PSC Members.
- Here is the recorded session from the teacher meeting held February 1. After introductions all around, John Stewart gave two talks (powerpoint slides above) to explain the PSC and how to get started. Then we took some questions! The powerpoint presentations start around 16 minutes in!
Completed student consent forms can be scanned and emailed to John Stewart at firstname.lastname@example.org or sent to:
235 White Hall
Department of Physics and Astronomy
West Virginia University
135 Willey St.
Morgantown, WV 26506
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