Home‎ > ‎


The interactive SPOT presentations utilize slides, videos, animations and an inquisitive approach to relay the excitement of new discoveries in space science. Green Bank Observatory and NASA research and careers here in West Virginia are highlighted in each show. Presentations can be done in a classroom or assembly setting, as long as a screen or blank wall and an electrical outlet are available. Schools may need to also provide projectors and/or audio speakers. Each show lasts approximately 30 minutes, with optional Hands-On Activities adding more time. During the 2016-2017 year, we will also experiment with options to receive a SPOT presentation at a local university or virtually through Skype or Google Hangout.

WV SPOT Presentation Request Form

Current Feature Presentations:

The Invisible Universe 2.0: Our old Invisible Universe presentation has been revamped with a new discovery from right here in West Virginia! Explore what scientists have learned about the universe by catching and analyzing invisible radio waves from space. Find out how Jocelyn Bell's historic discovery of pulses in her radio data revealed a new type of star called a pulsar, which is born from violet star explosions and acts like a lighthouse in space. Using the Green Bank Observatory's telescope and others, astronomers continue to be surprised by the invisible universe. New discoveries made by WVU professor Duncan Lorimer reveal a new type of mysterious radio signal called Fast Radio Bursts! What causes these bursts? Where do they come from? Join in the excitement as astronomers around the world try to learn more!

Learn more about the Pulsar Search Collaboratory (PSC):

NGSS and Common Core Standard Connections:
  • PS4B: Electromagnetic Radiation: Learn about an invisible form of radiation called radio waves.
  • NGSS MS-ESS1 Earth’s Place in the Universe, Science and Engineering Practices – Constructing Explanations and Designing Solutions – Use multiple sources of evidence. Radio astronomy data and theories of the life cycle of stars are used to construct an explanation for how pulsars create signals that are detected on Earth
  • Disciplinary Core Ideas –ESS1.A: The Universe and its Stars – Earth and its solar system are part of the Milky Way galaxy, which is one of many galaxies in the universe. Jupiter, the Milky Way, and distant galaxies are used as examples of objects in the universe that can be studied with radio waves
  • Crosscutting Concepts: Patterns: Patterns can be used to identity cause-and-effect relationships (MS-ESS1-1). Pulsar detection patterns and changes in those patterns can help us detect gravitational waves
  • Crosscutting Concepts: Interdependence of Science, Engineering, and Technology. Radio telescopes have led to important discoveries - including pulsars, fast radio bursts, and potentially gravitational waves – and continue to be important engineering/technological tools for learning about the universe
  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RST.6-8.4: Determine the meaning of symbols, key terms, and other domain-specific words and phrases as they are used in a specific scientific or technical context relevant to grades 6-8 texts and topics. Learn new vocabulary and concepts related to radio astronomy, pulsars, and gravitational waves

[CURRENTLY UNAVAILABLE]The Search for Extra Terrestrial Intelligence: Find out how the Green Bank Telescope can help us answer one of the greatest questions of all: Are we alone?

NGSS and Common Core Standard Connections: (coming soon)

Special Presentation for Advanced Audiences (best for high school and above)
Tuning In to Einstein’s Universe” highlights NANOGrav, a collaboration of researchers around the country, including at West Virginia University, who study Einstein's predicted "gravitational waves." It builds on the history of astronomy from Galileo’s time to show how gravity can open a whole new window to our understanding of the universe. How are gravitational waves made? How do we use pulsars to detect them? How can you become involved?
 For this presentation a graduate student researcher from West Virginia University's pulsar and black hole group will visit your school. Learn more about NANOGrav here: nanograv.org

Past Presentations (can still be requested - just ask!)

How to Make a Planet…with Life!: What’s out there in space? What is everything made of? How do we know? This presentation explores how stars make atoms, how those atoms combine into molecules, and how molecules are recycled back into new stars, and even planets! Learn how every thing, even YOU, is made of star stuff! Best for middle school audiences and above.

The Star of our Universe: The Sun gives us much more than light – without the Sun we wouldn’t have seasons or weather or life at all. How do NASA and NRAO study the Sun? How does the Sun’s activity affect our “space weather”? Best for younger audiences.

Space Telescopes: Searching for Other Worlds.  This presentation features the Hubble Space Telescope, as well as the James Webb Space Telescope. Students learn how we use these space-based telescopes to search for planets and worlds around other stars.

The International Space Station: Learn what it takes to live in space. How do we build a whole station in space? What's it like to be an astronaut? What is the future of human space travel?