Congratulations to Kiara Lanham for being selected to attend the Governor's STEM Institute (GSI) 2022! This summer, she will join 59 other Freshman at the Green Bank Observatory (GBO) to learn about radio Astronomy research, with extensive and supporting exposer to advanced topics in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.
For two weeks, students will be immersed in the research activities of the Green Bank Observatory, a national research center. They will work in teams of five to six students, led by a teacher and supported by a student mentor and a GBO staff scientist. Students will pursue open-ended research problems through observations from data provided from a dedicated 40-foot diameter radio telescope, and robotic 20 Meter Telescope. These research problems are carefully designed to cover a variety of research situations and are viable projects with potential for new knowledge to be generated.
Research problems will include measuring the hydrogen gas in the Milky Way Galaxy, attempting to detect radio emission from the planets, and measuring the emission from black holes in distant galaxies. So that they can quickly gain an appreciation of the challenges that they face, the students are presented these research problems on the second day of GSI.
Each student research team will be paired with a GBO staff scientist who acts as an advisor to the team, guiding the students by asking questions rather than by giving answers. In order for the students to truly experience research, the GSI staff members do not tell the students what to do, but rather encourage them to consider various concepts and procedures.
The students are placed in a new role as radio astronomers and are responsible for developing their own understanding of the necessary concepts and research strategies. With this freedom and responsibility to learn and explore, some students, understandably, experience moderate anxiety. They must learn to trust each other, their data, and take control of their project. The student mentors help mediate the group dynamic and ensure that ALL team members participate equally.