LIGO Outreach Center

RICHLAND, WA - Richland's gravitational wave observatory will be expanding. This all comes after an approved $7.7 million capital budget by Governor Jay Inslee.

It's been a decade long process but soon, LIGO Hanford in Richland will be home to a STEM center. The center is expected to house 10,000 Kindergarten through 12th grade students a year.

"It's a large investment. Understanding why that is important can be difficult," said Education Outreach Coordinator, Amber Strunk.

For Amber Strunk, it's not a difficult thing to wrap her mind around when she thinks about the thousands of kids who will come learn about the mysterious gravitational waves.

"Somewhere like LIGO allows us to inspire students to look and dream big," said Strunk.

The STEM center will feature 50 hands on exhibits and classroom space for teacher development.

"Right now, is the 50th anniversary of the moon landing. It's a good time to think about why do people go into science, and engineering," said Strunk. "The moon landing was a time where people were really inspired. Most of the people who went into science and engineering, at the time, didn't go into NASA. Instead, they went into other industries that really helped where we are today." 

Where we are today, is detecting gravitational waves millions of light years away.

"We have such a broad range of scientific discovery happening right here." said Strunk. "Not everybody realizes that."

Work on the project can't begin until the current observational period is over. Vibrations on the ground can interrupt it. Construction will begin shortly after that, and the facility is expected to be completed by Fall of 2021.

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