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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. 

Click here:
WV SPOT Presentation Request Form

Current Feature Presentations:

"The Invisible Universe 2.0" is the revamped version of "The Invisible Universe" presentation and includes 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 violent 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

"Water: The Source of Life" emphasizes all the ways in which we utilize freshwater and the importance of maintaining clean sources of water. West Virginia is home to over 32,000 miles of stream, and pollutants we put into these streams ultimately impact the drinking water for millions of people across the United States of America. How much freshwater exists on planet earth? How many miles of stream in West Virginia have been impacted by various pollutants? Can we remedy polluted waterways? Why is it important for us to clean up and maintain freshwater sources? Learn the answers to all these questions and discover the importance of West Virginia water with this presentation!

NGSS Connections:
  • S.2.GS.11: Obtain information to identify where water is found on Earth and that it can be solid or liquid.
  • S.5.GS.8: Develop a model using an example to describe ways the geosphere, biosphere, hydrosphere, and/or atmosphere interact.
  • S.5.GS.9: Describe and graph the amounts and percentages of water and fresh water in various reservoirs to provide evidence about the distribution of water on Earth.
  • S.5.GS.10: Obtain and combine information about ways individual communities use science ideas to protect the Earth’s resources and environment.
  • S.8.ESS.1: Construct an argument supported by evidence for how increases in human population and per-capita consumption of natural resources impact Earth’s systems.
  • S.HS.ENV.6: Explain how technology has influenced the sustainability of natural resources over time.
  • S.HS.ENV.18: Identify sources, uses, quality, conservation, and global distribution of water.
  • S.HS.ENV.22: Examine legislation associated with the protection of water: Clean Water Act.

Special Presentation for Advanced Audiences (best for high school and above)

Tuning into 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 the
m? 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!" discusses 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 World" demonstrates how the Sun gives us so much more than light – without the Sun we wouldn’t have seasons or weather or life at all. How do NASA and the Green Bank Observatory study the Sun? How does the Sun’s activity affect our “space weather”? Best for younger audiences.

"Space Telescopes: Searching for Other Worlds" 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" unveils 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?