McDonald Observatory Announces Summer 2002 Professional Development Workshops for Teachers

Fort Davis, Texas -- McDonald Observatory will begin its new series of workshops for K-12 teachers in late May. Now is the time for teachers to sign up! The workshops are certified by the State Board of Education to provide continuing education credit. Each three- or four-day workshop includes astronomy activities aligned with both the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills and the National Science Education Standards. The workshops also encompass evening observing opportunities, tours of the Observatory and new Visitors Center, room and board, workshop materials and handouts.

The workshops are open to all K-12 teachers. Scholarships covering all expenses (except transportation to and from the Observatory) are provided for teachers from communities surrounding the Observatory (Texas Region 18, see note). The scholarships are funded by Midland oilman and investor Joe Parsley and The Meadows Foundation of Texas.

McDonald Observatory is one of the premier locations in the United States for astronomy. The workshops will be held in the new 12,000 square-foot McDonald Observatory Visitors Center that includes a large laboratory-style classroom with advanced audio and video capabilities, as well as the $1.1 million interactive "Decoding Starlight" exhibit, funded by the National Science Foundation. The Center also includes a 90-seat theater with state-of-the-art audio and video technology. Outside, there are two large telescopes in 20-foot domes and a large amphitheater of rock benches for unaided eye observations under one of the darkest night skies in North America. Teachers will also tour the professional telescopes, including the Hobby-Eberly Telescope (one of the largest telescopes in the world) and the Harlan J. Smith 2.7-meter telescope (a large research telescope used every clear night of the year).

The Observatory's resident Education Coordinator (Marc Wetzel) and professional staff from The University of Texas at Austin (Dr. Mary Kay Hemenway or Brad Armosky) will co-present the workshops.

Workshops begin and end at 1 p.m. on the indicated dates. Housing at the Observatory consists of double-rooms with private bathrooms.

Workshop Schedule
May 28 – 30
"Exploring Our Solar System"
Designed for grades K - 6
Fee: $320

May 31 – June2
"The Sky: Day and Night Observations"
Designed for grades 6 - 12
Fee: $320

June 4 - 7
"StarDate/Universo Teacher Guide and Beyond"
Open to teachers of all grade levels, emphasis on middle school
Fee: $430

August 5 - 7
"Exploring Our Solar System"
Designed for grades K - 6
Fee: $320

August 8-10
"The Sky: Day and Night Observations"
Designed for grades 6 - 12
Fee: $320

For application forms or more information on the workshops, visit us online at:
http://www.mcdonaldobservatory.org/teachers/ or contact Marc Wetzel at:
wetzel@astro.as.utexas.edu

Note: Texas Region 18 consists of school districts in these counties: Andrews, Brewster, Crane, Culberson, Ector, Glasscock, Howard, Jeff Davis, Loving, Martin, Midland, Pecos, Presidio, Reagan, Reeves, Terrell, Upton, Ward, and Winkler.