Published September 1994 — Download PDF of the original newspaper column
Byrd's-Eye View By U.S. Senator Robert C. Byrd Reaching Out With West Virginia's Scientific "Ear"
In November 1988, the old National Radio Telescope at Green Bank, Pocahontas County, collapsed. Understandably, the collapse of the telescope brought a cry of dismay from the Nation's scientific community, with calls for an early replacement. Subsequently, to replace this vital scientific instrument, I added $75 million to a supplemental appropriations bill in 1989. Since then, construction at the Green Bank site has moved forward rapidly, with planned construction currently approximately 50 percent finished, and completion scheduled for autumn of 1996. When fully operational, the National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO) will place West Virginia firmly in the front ranks of international space research. In spite of the 1988 calamity, the Green Bank scientific installation has nevertheless continued to host numerous educational activities, in anticipation of fully resumed research and training in the future. For example, a series of Science Teachers Training programs, conducted by NRAO in partnership with West Virginia University (WVU), has been offered regularly since 1987, with support from both the National Science and Benedum Foundations. Since their inception, these programs have involved more than 350 teachers from across the country in exhaustive two week summer courses that feature lectures on astronomy, actual scientific research using a 40-foot-diameter radio telescope, de- tailed seminars about science education, and construction of scientific instruments for classroom use. Since 1987, these seminar- trained teachers have conducted Workshops in their own school districts, sharing their knowledge and training with an estimated 15,000 other science teachers across the nation. This year, the Teachers Training program was redesigned to concentrate on West Virginia teachers, as well as college students attending WVU and Glenville State, West Liberty, and Fairmont State Colleges who are training to be teachers. As part of the redesigned Green Bank program, which will continue through 1996, the college student participants will be assigned to "student-teach" in schools near their colleges. Through this redesigned program, West Virginia teachers, schools, and students will be further enriched by the expertise available at Green Bank.
Additionally, the Observatory staff conducts workshops for small college science faculties nationwide; provides summer jobs for undergraduate science, engineering, and computer students; conducts tours for interested visitors; and, in cooperation with Glenville State, provides an "elder hostel" program that allows the senior citizen participants to operate the 40-footdiameter radio telescope. Certainly, the Green Bank facility is proving its value as an educational tool, and I look forward to the completion and dedication of the new massive telescope and fully resumed activities two years hence. September 28, 1944