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News from the LIGO Hanford Observatory

Pasco High School Science Classes Visit LIGO Hanford

Photo credits: Mary Beltran and Laura Cook

group walk

Nearly fifty Pasco High School science students visited the LIGO Hanford Observatory on January 27, 2005. A pea-soup fog provided the backdrop as the group enthusiastically tackled a variety of interactive activities and learned about the science of gravitational wave detection. These students and their teacher Shelly Stahl are part of the Yakima Valley/Tri-Cities MESA program (Mathematics, Engineering & Science Achievement), and MESA staff member Laura Cook was one of several adults who chaperoned the trip. LIGO Hanford Education and Outreach Coordinator Dale Ingram facilitated the day's agenda, and the students heard from LIGO staff members Betsy Bland and Corey Gray. The day unfolded as follows:

8:45 AM:  Arrive and welcome
8:55 - 10:00:   Interactive activities using LIGO exhibits
10:00 - 10:30:  Discussion of activities
10:30 - 11:15:  LIGO presentation, Betsy Bland
11:15 - 11:45:  Box lunches
11:45 - 12:10:  Walking tour of the site
12:10 - 12:50:  The LIGO control room with Corey Gray (2 groups)
12:50 - 1:10:   Wrap-up, evaluation, departure
IFO demo
control room

Students received a copy of the LIGO Explorer to guide them through the standards-based exhibit activities. Here are a few student comments about the trip: "I loved it here ... I'd love to walk the whole arm length of 2.5 miles," "It was a pretty interesting field trip. Your jobs are really interesting. I think there is a possibility I'd like to work here," and "It was really cold outside to be walking." LIGO Hanford hopes to become a frequent field trip destination for area schools. One of only five gravitational-wave interferometer sites worldwide (and one of the two largest), the observatory gives students a peek under the hood at cutting-edge science (although on the day of Pasco's visit the engine of science was a bit hard to see!). Contact LIGO if you are interested in more information about field trips. More resources for teachers can be found at LIGO's Teachers Corner.

Students worked with the LIGO Explorer exhibits and visited the control room

Exploring colors of shadows
shadows 1 shadows 2

Using spectroscopes on the lights
scope 1 scope 2

Following Issac Newton's path with the pendulum (we broke the string)
pendulum_1 pendulum pendulum

Exploring orbits with the Gravity Well
well well well

Counting steps for the scaling activity "Journey to the Stars"
scale 1 scale 2

One of the early aluminum bar gravitational wave detectors
bar 1 bar 2

Telescope images, history of physics, LIGO instrumentation
posters 1 posters 2 posters 3

In the control room with LIGO operator Corey Gray
control room 1 control room 2 control room 3

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