More than 100 families spent the rainy afternoon at the Green Bank Observatory in Pocahontas County for an annual open house event.
The observatory has been hosting the event for nearly a decade and this year’s Launch into Learning focused on STEM education.
“One of our missions here is education and just getting people to understand a little bit about not just the science we do but the engineering and so forth. It’s just part of who we are and what we do and this is an opportunity for us to just get a few more people in here, both to learn about science but also we get outside groups in here to teach about what they do,” said Green Bank Observatory Director Karen O’Neil.
Each year families have the opportunity to build and launch a rocket; test their engineering skills, try their hand at robotics, and tackle fun science experiments with the added bonus of seeing the world’s biggest telescopes.
Local student robotics group, Radioactive Robotics, showcased their knowledge of science, engineering, and programming during the event.
“My mom told me ‘Willie, build me a simple course.’ So, I built a U-turn. I feel like it’s fun how you can express how you feel and it also lets me do what I like, programming and building,” said Radioactive Robotics Member Willie O’Ganian.
In 2016 the National Science Foundation began discussing options for significantly decreasing or eliminating funding to the facility. Officials say they are ever eager to share what the observatory has to offer and will continue the event despite potential budget cuts.
“On the one hand it is very important to us to have the public know who and what we do because of the threats to the funding but frankly this is an activity we would do regardless,” continued O’Neil.
“Our mission is education; our mission is science, and we are going to keep doing the education and the science for as long as we possibly can.”