McDonald Observatory offers a unique setting for teacher workshops: the Observatory and Visitors Center in the Davis Mountains of West Texas.
Tours of the telescopes, discussions with the research astrophysicists in residence, and nighttime observations are an integral part of every workshop experience. Not only will you do inquiry-based activities aligned with science and mathematics TEKS and STARR/TAKS, you will practice your new astronomy skills under the Observatory’s dark skies, weather permitting, and partner with trained and nationally recognized astronomy educators.
McDonald Observatory continues to celebrate the 2009 International Year of Astronomy and NASA's Year of the Solar System by offering K-12 teacher IYA content in teacher workshops as part of the international Galileo Teacher Training Program. We will continue to offer this same programming throughout the 2013 workshops.
- 20 hours or more of Continuing Education Credit for Summer workshops
- inquiry based activities that are TEKS- and STARR/TAKS-aligned
- immersion: lunch and dinner are at the Observatory
- meet astronomers and discuss current astronomical research
- practice basic astronomy skills
How To Apply
The online application is now available. Applications are still being accepted for the Earth and Space Science workshop.
Directions to the Observatory
The McDonald Observatory is located in the beautiful Davis Mountains of west Texas.
Click here for driving and flying directions to our facility.
2013 Schedule, Fees and Information
Currently, scholarships for teachers are available for two of this summer's workshops, "Solar Systems Uncovered" and "Stellar Explosions!". For these funded workshops, room and board, program fees, and materials are provided by the funding agencies listed with the workshop description below. Funded or not, ALL of our workshops require accepted teachers to pay a refundable $100 deposit by April 15, 2013, and are responsible for their own transportation to/from McDonald Observatory. For more important information, see below.
Applications are currently being accepted on a space-available basis
*Funding through NASA provides full scholarships for all U.S. participants to attend "Solar Systems Uncovered" and "Stellar Explosions!" workshops only. These scholarships cover lodging, meals, program fees, and instructional materials. Participants must arrange and pay for their own transportation to/from McDonald Observatory. Scholarship participants must pay a $100 deposit by April 15, 2013 to hold their reservation.
The other workshops ("Earth and Space Science" and "Explore Our Solar System") are available at $600/participant. This fee covers lodging, meals, program fees, and instructional materials. A $100 deposit is due April 15, 2013, and the remaining fee is due as follows: "Earth and Space Science" due May 17; "Explore Our Solar System" due June 7, and "Stellar Explosions!" due June 17. Outside funding has been applied for to provide scholarships for some of these workshops, and may become available, but is not known at this time.
All programs include both day and night instructional sessions, materials, daytime tours, evening observing (weather permitting), lodging, and meals. Shared hotel rooms have been reserved for registered participants only. Participants who do not wish to share a room with another participant are responsible for reserving and paying for any other additional hotel room arrangements for themselves or accompanying family or friends. If you are participating in a workshop and will be arranging your own room, please let us know at least 45 days in advance of the workshop. Please be aware that some of the telescope observing activites will last until late hours.
All applications must be submitted by February 8, 2013. You should receive notification as to the status of your application on February 15. For ALL accepted teachers to any of the McDonald Observatory workshops, we require a $100 deposit to be made to our secure online system by April 15, 2013 to hold your reservations. If the deposit is not paid by this date, your spot will be given to the next qualified applicant.
Payment and $100 Deposit Refund Policy
If you are accepted into a funded workshop ("Solar Systems Uncovered" or "Stellar Explosions!")
- A $100 deposit is required by April 15, 2013.
- If you attend the workshop, or cancel MORE than 30 days before the first day of the workshop, your deposit will be refunded to you.
- If you fail to appear for your workshop, or cancel LESS than 30 days before the first day of the workshop, you will be charged $100.
If you are accepted into the "Earth and Space Science" or "Explore Our Solar System":
- The workshop fee is $600.
- A $100 deposit is due April 15, 2013. The remaining balance is due as follows: "Earth and Space Science", due May 17; "Explore Our Solar System", due June 7.
- Your $100 deposit is fully refunded if you cancel MORE than 30 days prior to the beginning of the workshop.
- If you cancel LESS than 30 days prior to the beginning of the workshop you do not receive a refund of the deposit. You WILL receive a refund of the other funds that you paid.
Suggestion: If you are accepted for a workshop and require funds for travel, we recommend you contact your school administration or parents' organization. Some teachers have found support from local businesses and industries in their communities. And some have done fundraising events such as bake sales. McDonald Observatory does not have any travel funds available for participants. For each workshop, we post a school email address for each participant so that travel/carpooling arrangements can be coordinated.
With 827 planets known to revolve around other stars, astronomers are now able to learn more details about these stars and their planets. Spectroscopy is a powerful tool that is used with ground-based telescopes to complement the work done from space in NASA missions. Perform activities that explore light at many wavelengths. Compare these planets to our solar system. Perform activities on how stars and planets are measured. At night, observe the sky with the unaided eye and view a variety of celestial objects through telescopes. Tour the research telescopes.
NASA provides support that enables us to offer scholarships for this workshop under grant # NNX11AC34G. Scholarship covers lodging, meals, and instructional materials. Teachers are responsible for their own transportation.
Celebrate the Year of the Solar System by exploring our solar system through hands-on, minds-on activities that you use in your classroom. Learn about the Sun - its characteristics and apparent motion. Explore properties and motions of planets. At night, observe the sky with the unaided eye and view a variety of celestial objects through telescopes. Tour the research telescopes.
Fees cover lodging, meals, registration, and instructional materials. Teachers are responsible for their own transportation.
Stellar Explosions! - How the Lives and Deaths of Stars Connect to Us
Recommended for grades 8-12
20 SBEC credits
Application Deadline: Feb 8
Workshop Fee: Fully Funded ($100 deposit due: April 15, 2013)
Ever wonder how supernovae form and how these fantastic stellar explosions lead to new stars and planets forming, and this is all related to you? In this workshop we will use real Hubble Space Telescope data as well as hands-on activities to explore these questions and more. This workshop will offer insight into how supernovae contribute to the stuff that makes planets and us, and how this is related to our own Sun and Solar System formation. At night, observe the sky with the unaided eye and view a variety of celestial objects through telescopes. Tour the research telescopes.
NASA provides support that enables us to offer scholarships for this workshop under grant # EO-1282003 through the Space Telescope Science Institute. Scholarship covers lodging, meals, and instructional materials. Teachers are responsible for their own transportation.