GSI Offers Students Opportunity of a LIfetime


​Imagination, hard work, fun, excitement

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                                               ​​ For Current 8th Graders​​: July 2-15 at Green Bank Observatory
See your counselor to learn about the application process. Remember that students who attended GSI after Grade 7 are ineligible.

The central theme for GSI-Green Bank is radio astronomy research with extensive, supporting exposure to advanced topics in science, computing, 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.

Although this may be frustrating to the students at first, it is an effective approach that successfully promotes a thorough understanding of the nature of science, instilling a level of intellectual confidence in the team members. 

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.

The teachers are recruited from public schools and institutions of higher learning throughout the country. Program director is Sue Ann Heatherly, education officer at GBO.

For current 7th graders: The Math and Science of Amusement Parks ​

Which force keeps you from flying off a merry-go-round? What's so special about the mirrors that distort your image?  How much energy is used when a roller coaster is flying down the track?  Have you ever thought about making a roller coaster of paper? What would you need to know?  GSI students will engage in a variety of projects and activities related to the fun of using math and science as they discover how they are used in amusement parks.   The goal is to open students’ eyes to what lies behind the "magic" creating the fun in amusement parks.  Get ready. There are a lot of connections between math, science--especially physics, and the dynamics of those funny, sometimes scary rides, and students are going to have a great time discovering them!

The 2023 sessions for current 7th graders include Session I: July 2-10 and Session II: July 12-20.  See your counselor to learn about the application process.

Two groups of 48 rising eighth-grade students will work in research groups planned by the GSI program directors in the WVU-based sessions to learn the math and physics necessary for their research project.
  1. The goal of the Governor’s STEM Institute is to build academic skills of rising 8th grade West Virginians in an engaging atmosphere that cultivates personal interest in the STEM fields, science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. Each year, the session is developed around a single research problem-based-learning theme. Students are placed into research, academic, and mentoring groups. Each class has 8-9 students, and each research group has a different set of students.​
  2. The GSI uses the jigsaw model of cooperative learning wherein each student becomes an expert in an academic area and brings that expertise to the research group. Research groups then collaborate to develop one portion of a larger overall academic project, and they bring that to the whole group. To become an expert in their academic area, all students attend two classes daily in a variety of disciplines (e.g. mathematics, biology, chemistry, physics, engineering) during the first half of the session to gain the tools and skills they need to contribute to their research group project. 
  3. In addition to classes and projects, students will have activity time daily. 
  4. Two primary components of the program that utilize the jigsaw model are the research and academic groups. Each student is assigned to one research and one academic group, providing the opportunity to work closely with different groups of students. Academic and research groups are comprised of 8-9 students each. 
  5. At the start of the GSI, the research groups determine the focus of their research as it relates to the central theme for the session. The students, knowing what their academic classes will be, discuss what they need to learn to complete their research project. They attend two classes per day for approximately 5 days, becoming experts in the material from these academic classes. They then take this information back to their research groups and contribute, as an expert, to the research group’s project and common goal. 
  6. The resources of West Virginia University are at the disposal of GSI faculty, staff, and students. Faculty will be recruited from public schools and institutions of higher learning throughout West Virginia.
  7. Program directors Bill and Gretchen Gibson are award-winning math and science teachers in Monongalia County. Dean of the Honors College, Dr. Ken Blemings will be in residence at Honors Hall during session I; Assistant Dean 
See the following sample daily schedule to get an idea of a typical day in this untypical learning experience looks like.

    Breakfast:            7:30a.m.-8:30 a.m.
    Class One:           8:30 -- 10:00
    Break:                 10:00 -- 10:15
    Class Two:         10:15 -- 11:45
    Break:                 11:45 -- 12:00
    Lunch:                12:00 -- 12:45 p.m.
    Research Time:    1:00 -- 3:00
    Activity:                 3:00 -- 5:00
    Dinner:                  5:00 -- 6:30
    Evening Act.         6:30 -- 9:00
    *NOTE: The last full day of each session will not include class time.  Morning and afternoon
                   will be dedicated solely to research time.

West Virginia Governor's STEM Institute Handbook