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Field Trips

The Green Bank Science Center is open year-round for your students! Our 25,000 square foot facility contains the Catching the Wave Exhibit Hall, 150-seat auditorium, StarLab Classroom, gift shop, and even a café. We now offer hands-on activities and Star Lab sessions in addition to guided tours of the telescopes.   

Programs for students and educational groups are FREE!

Our Science Center is different from a typical science museum. We are on location as astronomers from around the world use the gigantic Robert C. Byrd Green Bank Telescope to uncover new knowledge about the universe. Discoveries happen here! And we want your students to share in this experience of discovery.

We are hands-on minds-on at the Science Center!
  • School groups can experience several unique interactive activities that meet national and state science and engineering standards.
  • Boy and Girl Scouts can earn astronomy themed badges!
  • Our signature "Radio Astronomer for a Day" program engages youth real radio astronomy as they investigate cosmic objects with the NRAO’s 40 foot diameter radio telescope!         
Before arranging your field trip take some time to:
1. Decide what you want to do while you're here! Consult the Field Trip Guide to plan your time.

2. Contact us to set the date. Determine how many students and how many chaperones will be on the trip. We recommend 1 chaperone per 10 students. Chaperones should accompany students in all activities. Call 456-2150, or email at gbt-tours@nrao.edu.

3. Day-trip or Overnight Visit?

Sherry McCarty is your contact for day visits. No matter how small or large your group, she'll help you organize your activities and tours. If you are planning a day-trip, you may elect to eat at our Starlight Café. If your group is large or you have time constraints you should pre-order.  Your best options are pizzas, or box lunches. You should contact Tonya Warder at twarder-at-nrao.edu

Staying overnight? Ask for Sue Ann Heatherly if you are planning an overnight visit. She'll help you organize your activities and find a date that suits you.  Once you have a date, reserve our affordable bunkhouse!  Just for school and youth groups  the bunkhouse can accommodate up to 60 students (30 girls and 30 boys). There are attached but separate quarters for chaperones. Students bring their own linens or sleeping bags. The cost is $10.00/student/night (with a minimum of $200.00/night). Our on site cafeteria will provide meals. Meals can be arranged at the Observatory Cafeteria. Meals for student groups include: breakfast ($6.00), lunch ($8.00) and supper ($9.00). Please bring your tax exempt documentation if you are a school or non-profit group.

4. Introduce your students to radio astronomy.

PLEASE NOTE: Cameras are welcome, but DIGITAL cameras (as well as other electronic devices) are not allowed in areas near the telescopes. Do our RFI activity to learn why! More info is here. (pdf file)
educational-opportunities-reinhardtCollege students at the 40 Foot Telescope. Credit: NRAO/AUI/NSF

bunkhouseThe interior of the Green Bank Bunkhouse. Credit: NRAO/AUI/NSF