Gravitational Waves Workshops

How do the LIGO and VIRGO detectors detect gravitational waves, while accounting for local sources of interference?

The activities in this workshop introduce students to the technology used in the LIGO and VIRGO observatories to detect gravitational waves and limit seismic interference in the detected signals. The activities also introduce students to the data analysis techniques used to localise where gravitational wave events have taken place, their distance from earth and the sizes of the astronomical bodies involved in the events.

This activity has been developed in partnership with the National Space Academy. To book a Masterclass (subsidies may exist) through the National Space Academy please use their contact form. For a workshop directly through Cardiff University, please email us at or use our Contact Form.

Gravitational Waves Workshop Resources

  • Requirements, learning objectives and setup [PDF]
  • Gravitational Waves Teacher Presentation: [Powerpoint[PDF]
  • Animations:
    • Part 1: Gravitational waves [mp4]
    • Part 2: LIGO technology and detections [mp4]
  • Activity Pack A – Seismic Isolation [PDF]
    • Sample layout image [JPG]
  • Activity Pack B – Michelson Interferometer [PDF]
  • Activity Pack C – Localisation [PDF]
    • 2 Detector localisation plot [PDF]
    • 3 Detector localisation plot [PDF]
    • Localisation datasets [PDF]
    • Localisation answers [Graphical Plots] [Table]
  • Activity Pack D – Data Analysis [PDF]
    • Waveform datasets [PDF]
    • Waveform answers [PDF]
  • Workshop risk assessment [Word]
  • Folder containing all resources [Google Drive]

Curriculum links

Key Stage    

Age Group          

Topics covered









Properties of waves
Detection of gravitational waves
Black holes
Drawing and interpreting graphs
Use of scientific equipment
Using scientific formulae
Numeracy skills
Literacy skills