Educational Opportunities

A vital component to this project is the integration of a program to improve Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) education. The authentic science of project-based opportunities for undergraduate students will form the core of this effort. The programs of a remotely operable moderate sized telescope lend themselves to ongoing observations suitable for broader classroom based efforts. This is true at the undergraduate level, but also in the important venue of K-12 collaborations. With a model similar to the successful National Science Foundation Center for Adaptive Optics crossed-threads approach, an effort to involve undergraduates in the development and teaching of K-12 programs will have a two-fold impact. First, our undergraduates will develop demonstrable proficiency as leaders and educators. Second, they will serve as important models for K-12 students as we improve recruitment into STEM related fields. The effectiveness and merit of service-learning based approaches guide the effort in GWPO educational program development.

Sonoma State University Undergraduates Adam Dye and Katherine Wyman at work on GWPO-related projects.

Cross-Disciplinary High-Tech Touchstone

The telescope and instrument development effort headquartered in the SSU Department of Physics and Astronomy will involve faculty and students in authentic research that incorporates astronomy, optics, computer science and engineering. An example is the current development of an Adaptive Optics Testbed in the Physics and Astronomy department. The students involved in this project-based program will gain real-world skills that translate into many disciplines. The broader GWPO endeavor will include a heavy emphasis on ecologically sustainable technologies, a burgeoning field.