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STAR CENTER SCIENCE TEACHING AND RESOURCE CENTER. LASER INTERFEROMETER GRAVITATIONAL WAVE OBSERVATORY . Introduction.

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STAR CENTER

SCIENCE TEACHING AND RESOURCE CENTER

LASER INTERFEROMETER GRAVITATIONAL WAVE OBSERVATORY


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Introduction

  • Propose to develop a science education resource center, in conjunction with the LIGO Livingston Observatory, that will become a regional education resource to students, teachers, and the general public.

  • Unique opportunity to utilize LIGO observatory, its staff, and equipment to stimulate science education and interest in science.

  • The Center will enhance initial educational outreach programs already underway at LIGO (field trips, school visits, science classes, etc.)


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Center Programs and Objectives:

  • Create a visitor center for the general public:

    • Facility will house exhibits which describe to visitors:

      • Why LIGO was built – scientific goals of LIGO

      • How LIGO works – illustrate and explain the technology which LIGO utilizes to operate

      • How LIGO data is analyzed and interpreted

    • Include a small optical telescope for night-time programs for the public similar to the one pictured at right (funding for this already committed by State of La).

Gravitational wave pattern from a binary star system

LSU/Baton Rouge Observatory


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Teacher education and curriculum development

  • Summer programs and internships for teachers to gain familiarity with the LIGO project, participate in research activities, and develop curriculae to be used to enrich their classrooms when they return to their home schools

  • Strengthen in-service training for teachers to address needs of state mandated LEAP testing.Physical science education at 8th grade level is a particular need in La.


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Student science enrichment programs

  • “Saturday morning science classes” . Staff led activities, experiments, and hands on activities for children to teach and promote an interest in physical science

  • Center for student educational development as part of summer or work-study programs for students.

  • Provide opportunities to share the LIGO network with students so that they can make use of networking resources, video conferencing. (Note: a program has already formed between schools in Gingin, Australia and Cascina, Italy as a result of the construction of gravitational wave observatories in these locations.)


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Vocational education program center

  • Development of vocational programs where students can learn skills associated with LIGO that have commercial value.

    • For example:

      • Vacuum systems – good market in regional petrochemical and air separation plants for these skills

      • Computer network support

      • Lasers and optics training

    • The center will provide a place for formal classroom lectures that are given as part of this program


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Community programs

  • Center will be available for community programs which can be of benefit to residents of the area; concerts, lectures, films, etc. Utilization of the facility by the community will strengthen a positive relationship between LIGO and the surrounding community.


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Center Description - Features

  • Small science museum with hands-on displays to inform the and excite visitors about LIGO related science and technology

  • Full time staffing to facilitate visits by general public, organized groups such as school field trips, and to lead special workshops and events

  • Class room space for after-school and Saturday science education programs for students

  • Connection to LIGO auditorium for public lectures, films, events

  • Classrooms and multi-media room for teacher and student workshops, tele-conferencing and distance learning activities via the La Board of Regents

  • Library, workshop, office space and operations support areas

  • Museum shop/bookstore/snack bar

  • Approximately 8,000 sq. ft. floor space


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Center Description - ctd

  • Location - The center will be on the LIGO site adjacent central observatory building so that visitors can easily move from the center to tour LIGO operations

  • Similar Facilities that already exist: Two other facilities with similar objectives are:

    • The National Radio Astronomy Observatory at Arecibo web link:http://www.naic.edu/

    • The Lowell Observatory at Flagstaff, Arizona web link: http://www.lowell.edu/

  • Both facilities were constructed through partnerships between the observatories and local donors, with startup funds for exhibits and staffing provided by the NSF.


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    Development Plan - Startup costs

    • Approximately $1-1.5 million for the construction of building, parking lot, office furnishings, based on actual cost of a similar project in Baton Rouge (Blue Bonnet Swamp Nature Center)

    • Estimated exhibit costs for hands-on exhibits, presentation displays, etc. $0.5-1 million

      • Includes start-up labor to plan and install exhibits, initiate visitor programs

      • (Funding for exhibit costs and initial start-up labor will be requested from the NSF)

    • Establishment of an endowment to offset operating costs?


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    Operational Cost and Staffing Estimate

    • The annual cost for operating the outreach center is estimated at approximately $400K. This estimate includes staffing and maintenance costs as well as funds for development of new exhibits and programs. Amount is similar to costs at Arecibo and Lowell Observatories.

    • Operating costs could be offset by small admission charges, gift shop and snack bar revenue, and endowment (as at Arecibo and Lowell Observatories)


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    Development responsibility

    • Outreach center to be governed through a board of directors to be named by LIGO with representation from community stakeholders

    • 501c(3) foundation to be established and administrated by outreach center board of directors

    • Advisory board of nationally prominent science center consultants to be formed to guide development of displays and programs


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