Knowledge Base

General Overview for Team Leaders


You and your team members can start a self-paced lesson series anytime!

Introduction – Team leaders are teachers, professors, grad students and advanced undergraduate students who organize PSC teams - students who prepare for and become pulsar researchers. These teams are often based at a school or college.  We also have a catch-all team for individual students who don't have an organizing leader.

The first level of research members engage in is analyzing pulsar discovery data to look for new pulsars. All PSC team members and team leaders participate in an online course that teaches them about pulsar science and radio astronomy. The course is led by world renowned West Virginia University radio astronomers Dr. Maura McLaughlin and Dr. Duncan Lorimer.  Once trained, PSC team members (and you if you wish) gain access to radio astronomy data taken at the Green Bank Telescope. The data is reserved for PSC team members and will not be analyzed by other scientists so any pulsar found is a significant scientific discovery. A sample of the data is available here.

By participating, your team members gain training in astronomy and data analysis from experts in pulsar astronomy. They participate in authentic scientific research with the possibility of making publishable scientific discoveries. They will have the opportunity to interact with leading scientists and discuss their research with both scientists and other team members. They may have the opportunity to present their research at a Capstone event at a local university. Team members and their team leaders will also have the opportunity to apply to spend a week extending their research experience at a summer camp at the GBT.

How to Use the PSC experience – Team leaders have used the data and training provided through the PSC in many ways:

  • Many gather a group of interested team members and form a club that meets either after school, during school club time. Team members go through the training together and discuss challenging datasets. The additional social component of a PSC club is the most effective way to use the experience.
  • Some team leaders allow interested members to participate independently.
  • Some team leaders have each member go through the online training; some take the online training themselves and then provide face-to-face instruction to their team members.
  • For some team members the activity is not connected to a class; for some members it is integrated into a science or astronomy class.

How does it work? The level of your participation in the program is flexible; at the minimum, you are expected to form and “administer” a PSC club consisting of team members, typically high school students, which could range in size from one member to many. 


  • Team leaders first create an account on this PSC site.. You will then register yourself  and your school on our database site
  • We will verify that you are a teacher, professor, graduate student etc.
  • Once that is done, we will activate your account and you create a team name.
  • You direct team members to register on the same site, selecting your school and team name.
  • You will activate their accounts.
  • Encourage team members to persist and conduct enough research to be eligible for opportunities such as Capstone seminar and PSC Camp at the Observatory in Green Bank.

Strongly Encouraged:

  • Take the online training yourself, either with your team members or ahead of time.  The easiest and best way to do this is to join us for our facilitated workshops. The next one starts October 3. This entitles you to come to PSC Camp too, an excellent expenses paid professional development experience.
  • Recruit team members, form a club and meet regularly.  You are instrumental in providing the encouragement, and facilitating access to PSC astronomers and staff for your team members. Team members with the support of a dedicated team leader do well and go far.  These are the team members who do the work and become published authors, whether or not they discover a new pulsar.

Getting Set Up with School Permission

It is important that your school principal know and agree to your participation in the program. By registering we assume that you have the go-ahead from your supervisor.

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