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Survey – New Instruments on the GBT

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GBT Scans 12 Planets for SETI Search

Artist’s impression of the TRAPPIST-1 system, showing two of its seven planets transiting in front of the star. Credit: NASA
Artist’s impression of the TRAPPIST-1 system, showing two of its seven planets transiting in front of the star. Credit: NASA

The Robert C. Byrd Green Bank Telescope (GBT), part of the Green Bank Observatory in West Virginia, is the world’s premiere single-dish radio telescope. Between its 100-meter dish (328-foot), unblocked aperture, and excellent surface accuracy, the GBT provides unprecedented sensitivity in the millimeter to meter wavelengths—very high to extremely high frequency (VHF to EHF). Since 2017, it also became one of the main instruments used by Breakthrough Listen and other institutes engaged in the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI).

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GBT, SETI, & the WOW Signal: the Search Continues…

New radio observations of a distant Sun-like star thought to be a likely source of the famous WOW! signal reveal no evidence that the system harbors anything (or anyone) capable of sending such a signal. Nonetheless, astronomers say the “null result” is an important step in verifying a new, more targeted approach to searching nearby stars for traces of the mysterious WOW! signal.

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Pocahontas County Science Fair

The Green Bank Science Center is excited to welcome our Pocahontas students in grades 3-12 for the annual County Science Fair! The fair acts as an entry point for students to qualify for the Regional Science Fair which will be held on February 18th, 2023.

  • Fair date: Tuesday January 17th, 2023 8:00 AM – 2:00 PM
  • Backup date in the event of bad weather: Tuesday January 24th, 2023 8:00 AM – 2:00 PM

Fair Schedule

8:00 – 9:00 Arrival and Project Setup

9:00 – 9: 30 Welcome in the Auditorium

9:30 – 12:00 Judging and Activity Rotations

12:00 – 1:00 Lunch

1:00 – 1:30 Whole Group Activity

1:30 – 2:00 Awards Ceremony, Tear Down, and Depart

The Pocahontas County Science Fair Rules are informed by the West Virginia Science and Engineering Fair rules to ensure qualifying projects can advance.

Rules:

All Projects

  1. Students must be in grades 3-12 and live in Pocahontas County.
  2. Each student may only enter one project.
  3. Homeschool students who contact the school to participate in the fair may be accepted on a case-by-case basis.
  4. Each project may only include research conducted this calendar year, beginning January 2022.
  5. No copying of another researcher’s work is allowed.
  6. Projects must follow all local, state, and federal laws and regulations.
  7. No copying of another researcher’s work is allowed.
  8. Projects that are demonstrations, “library” research, informational projects, or “explanation” models are not recommended nor appropriate.
  9. No student or school names may appear on abstracts or projects.
  10. No students’ or participants’ facial photographs may appear on abstracts or projects.

Project Displays and Videos

  1. The display must be no more than 108 inches tall, 48 inches wide, and 30 inches deep, and must be freestanding (does not need to lean against a wall).
  2. The following are prohibited from displays:
  1. Student or school names
  2. Student or participant facial photographs
  3. Live animals
  4. Flames, highly flammable materials, or heat sources (hot plates, etc.)
  5. Dry ice
  6. Weapons and ammunition (including toys and replicas)
  7. Sharp items (knives, needles, etc.)
  8. Tobacco products
  9. All hazardous or potentially hazardous substances or devices (poisonous chemicals, drugs, etc.)
  10. Batteries with open-top cells (car, motorcycle batteries, etc.)
  11. Any item intended for distribution
  12. Any personal information, including websites, email accounts, social media handles, etc.
  13. Any item prohibited by Board of Education policies
  14. Any item a fair coordinator deems to be unsafe or inappropriate.

Competition and Judging

  1. Schools may direct judges to use the WV Science & Engineering Science Fair Judging Form on page 17 of the Science & Engineering Fair Project Guide, or they may develop their own judging guide
  2. Projects in the same division and the same grade band (elementary, middle, and high school) will be judged against each other.

Prohibited Projects

  1. The following are PROHIBITED in all Elementary School (grades 3-5) Science Fair Projects with NO exceptions:
    1. Biological Agents projects that use or study microorganisms, including mold, bacteria, viruses, prions, fungi, and parasites, including those grown in Petri dishes.
  2. The following are PROHIBITED in Elementary and Middle School (grades 3-8) Science Fair Projects with NO exceptions:
    1. Vertebrate Animal Research involving pain, withholding of food or water. (All Vertebrate Animal Research should be reviewed by a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine and a school-based Institutional Review Board (IRB)/Scientific Review Committee (SRC). 
    2. Hazardous chemicals or reagents, DEA controlled substances, tobacco, alcohol, prescription drugs, firearms, or explosives.
    3. Biological Agents Experiments done at home that use or study microorganisms including bacteria, viruses, prions, fungi, and parasites.
    4. Radioactive substances or equipment that emits any form of ionizing radiation. 
    5. Class IV Lasers (All use of lower-class lasers must be under direct supervision of a qualified adult).
  3. The following types of research are discouraged in Middle School but can be permitted with advanced permission. Students must have their projects approved by the school administrator BEFORE starting their research (check if a project requires pre-approval)! 
  1. Middle school level students (Grades 6 – 8) are DISCOURAGED from conducting research using biological materials (bacteria, DNA, fungi, molds, etc.) where the materials must be grown or cultured. 
  2. Human Subjects may be used only if all experimentation is conducted under adult supervision and student researchers have notified parents of the conditions of the experiment and provided the opportunities for subjects to opt-out of participation. All participants must sign an informed consent form. All guidelines for human participant research must be followed and forms submitted to the student’s teacher and administrator BEFORE experimentation begins.
    1. Human Research must be reviewed by a medical professional to ensure the safety of the student and participants. 
    2. Animal Behavior Studies Research projects should be reviewed by a veterinarian to ensure the safety of the student and animal. All Vertebrate animal studies MUST be of an observational nature and not be done with any animals other than privately owned animals. 
    3. If you wish to do an animal research project, please use invertebrates!

Projects Involving Human Participants

  1. All projects involving humans must be reviewed by an Institutional Review Board, which includes an educator, a school administrator, and a medical or mental health professional, before experimentation begins.
  2. For more information on IRBs, see page 10 of the Science & Engineering Fair Project Guide.
  1. All human participants must be provided the opportunity to opt-out of participation.
  2. All participants (or their legal guardian, if under the age of 18) must sign an informed consent form.
    1. An informed consent form can be found on the ISEF site here.

Projects Involving Non-Human Vertebrate Animals

  1. All vertebrate animal research must be reviewed by a Scientific Review Committee, which includes a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine, an educator, and one additional member, before experimentation begins. 
  2. For more information on SRCs, see page 10 of the Science & Engineering Fair Project Guide.
  1. All vertebrate animal research must be of an observational nature.
  2. Vertebrate animal research may not be done on an animal other than a family pet.

Projects Involving Biological Agents

  1. Students are discouraged from conducting research using hazardous biological materials (bacteria, DNA, fungi, molds, etc.) where the materials must be cultured.
  2. Any experimentation that involves bacteria, viruses, prions, fungi, parasites, or any other microorganism that must be cultured should be done in a BioSafety Level 2 Laboratory. 
  3. Any project that involves biological agents must be reviewed by a Scientific Review Committee, which includes a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine, an educator, and one additional member, before experimentation begins. 
  4. For more information on SRCs, see page 10 of the Science & Engineering Fair Project Guide.

Does your project involve animal observations or human research? Make sure you have advanced permission to conduct these experiments and have these forms filled out and with you at the fair!

Does your project involve any of the following?

  • Vertebrate Animals
  • Human Participants
  • Recombinant DNA
  • Microorganisms
  • Human or Animal Tissue
  • Hazardous Chemicals, Activities, or Devices
  • Student-Designed Invention, App, or Prototype

Use the International Science and Engineering Fair Wizard to determine what forms and approvals are necessary before beginning a science fair project.

Senator Capito’s staffers experience one of world’s largest telescopes, nestled in West Virginia mountains

Congressional staffers on the receiver deck of the GBT overlooking the surface of the 2-acre dish. Photo credit NSF/GBO/Paul Vosteen. 

Staffers for West Virginia Senator Shelley Moore Capito left their offices in Washington, D.C. to explore one of the largest telescopes on Earth during their visit to the Green Bank Observatory. 

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