GREEN BANK- Five area students this past summer attended the annual West Virginia Governor's School for Mathematics and Science.
The two-week-long, all-expenses-paid, residential science honors program, held at the National Radio Astronomy Observatory in Green Bank, W.Va., utilized the field of radio astronomy to educate and encourage students to further explore careers in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics, also known as S.T.E.M.
Sarah Snider of Parkersburg, Mary Catherine Bolton of Vienna, Andrew Mommessin of Vienna, Preston Padden of Vienna and Zach Alkire of Williamstown were among 57 rising ninth-grade scholars who participated in the summer program.
The students exhibited leadership abilities, superior academic proficiency in science and math, and a willingness to explore various topics with peers from around the state, and were selected for their excellence in these areas.
The program harnessed the unique facilities available at the National Radio Astronomy Observatory to drive inquiry-based learning for small groups of five or six students, led by a teacher and a student mentor.
The teams worked throughout their stay at Green Bank to produce a research project and presented their findings to their peers and the observatory's residential astronomers. Students employed the 40-foot radio telescope to make observations during their stay to investigate astronomical subjects as diverse as mapping distant galaxies to tracking hydrogen.
Local astronomers mentored each team, providing their expertise in not only the research process, but also through a series of talks provided by observatory staff. The lecture series included such subjects as the interaction of galaxies, star formation and astrochemistry.
The talks included information about the functional operation of the 40-foot telescope, giving students the proficiency to operate the instrumentation that would drive their research projects.
Student participants had the opportunity to engage in outdoor activities, such as hiking, mountain biking and caving.
The West Virginia Governor's School for Mathematics and Science is made possible through a partnership between the West Virginia Department of Education, the National Radio Astronomy Observatory and the National Youth Science Foundation.