DC.3.04 — PULSE@Parkes, Engaging Students through Hands-On Radio Astronomy

Date & Time

Aug 7th at 4:36 PM until 4:48 PM




Rating ( votes)

Author(s): Robert Hollow1, George Hobbs1, Ryan M Shannon1, Matthew Kerr1

Institution(s): 1. CSIRO Astronomy and Space Science

PULSE@Parkes is an innovative, free educational program run by CSIRO Astronomy and Space Science (CASS) in which high school students use the 64m Parkes radio telescope remotely in real time to observe pulsars then analyse their data. The program caters for a range of student ability and introduces students to hands-on observing and radio astronomy. Students are guided by professional astronomers, educators and PhD students during an observing session. They have ample time to interact with the scientists and discuss astronomy, careers and general scientific questions. Students use a web-based module to analyse pulsar properties. All data from the program are streamed via a web browser and are freely available from the online archive and may be used for open-ended student investigations. The data are also used by the team for ongoing pulsar studies with two scientific papers published to date.
Over 100 sessions have been held so far. Most sessions are held at CASS headquarters in Sydney, Australia but other sessions are regularly held in other states with partner institutions. The flexibility of the program means that it is also possible to run sessions in other countries. This aspect of the program is useful for demonstrating capability, engaging students in diverse settings and fostering collaborations. The use of Twitter (@pulseatparkes) during allows followers worldwide to participate and ask questions.
Two tours of Japan plus sessions in the UK, Netherlands and Canada have reached a wide audience. Plans for collaborations in China are well underway with the possibility of use with other countries also being explored. The program has also been successfully used in helping to train international graduate students via the International Pulsar Timing Array Schools. We have identified strong demand and need for programs such as this for training undergraduate students in Asia and the North America in observing and data analysis techniques so one area of planned development is teaching materials and a package for students at this level. The program has also been used to inform the development of educational programs for new telescopes such as the Australian SKA Pathfinder (ASKAP) and the SKA.