Teacher Workshops

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 STAAR, you will practice your new astronomy skills under the Observatory’s dark skies, weather permitting, and partner with trained and nationally recognized astronomy educators. And, McDonald Observatory offers the international Galileo Teacher Training Program as part of each workshop.

Benefits

  • 20 hours or more of Continuing Education Credit for Summer workshops
  • inquiry based activities that are TEKS- and STARR-aligned
  • meet astronomers and discuss current astronomical research
  • practice basic astronomy skills

How To Apply & Application Form

The deadline to apply for 2018 Workshops is February 9, 2018.
Click here to go to the Application Form.

2018 Schedule, Fees and Information

Scholarships for participating teachers are available for all five of this summer's workshops, entitled "UTeach Light and Optics", “Elements of the Cosmos”, "Galaxies and the Hobby Eberly Dark Energy Experiment", “Giant Magellan Telescope", and "Solar System and Beyond”.  The UTeach Light & Optics workshop will give priority to current UTeach students, UTeach alumni, and teachers new to the classroom.  For all workshops, room and board, program fees, and materials are provided by grants, UT endowments and affiliated organizations.  All workshops require accepted teachers to pay a refundable $100 deposit by April 6, 2018, and teachers are responsible for their own transportation to/from McDonald Observatory. For more important information, see below.

 

Workshop Dates Grades Status
UTeach Light & Optics
Priority given to current, former UTeach students, and new classroom teachers
June 11-13 6-12 Available
Elements of the Cosmos June 15-17 6-12 Available
Galaxies & HETDEX June 19-21 8-12 Available
GMT Teacher Workshop June 23-25 6-12 Available
Solar Systems & Beyond July 17-19 K-8 Available
       

Outside funding provides full scholarships for all U.S. teacher participants to attend eligible workshops. 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 6, 2018 to hold their reservation.

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.  Although not recommended, participants who do not wish to share a room with another workshop participant are responsible for reserving and paying for 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 activities will last until late hours.

Applications must be submitted by February 9, 2018. You should receive notification as to the status of your application on February 23, 2018. While workshops are fully funded, all accepted teachers must pay a $100 deposit by April 6, 2018 to hold your spot. Workshop deposits are paid through our secure online system.  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, a $100 deposit is required by April 6, 2018.

  • If you attend the workshop, or cancel MORE than 30 days before the first day of the workshop, your deposit will be fully refunded to you.
  • If you fail to appear for your workshop, or cancel LESS than 30 days before the first day of the workshop, your deposit will not be refunded.

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, while others have done fundraising events. McDonald Observatory does not have travel funds available for participants. For each workshop, we post contact information so that teachers can coordinate a carpool.

Workshop Descriptions

 

June 11-13, 2018: UTeach Light & Optics
Recommended for grades 6-12
, 20 SBEC credits

Application Deadline: Feb 9, 2018
Workshop Fee: Fully Funded ($100 deposit due: April 6, 2018)

Explore how astronomers use lenses, mirrors, prisms, and diffraction gratings in building astronomical instruments and telescopes. Build your own telescopes and spectroscopes, and observe with telescopes at McDonald Observatory. Perform hands-on activities that explore light at many wavelengths, such as the infrared region of the spectrum, that you can do in your own classroom. Tour McDonald Observatory and learn how astronomers use the research telescopes to explore the universe and make groundbreaking discoveries.

UT endowments provides support that enables us to offer scholarships for this workshop. Scholarship covers lodging, meals, and instructional materials. Teachers are responsible for their own transportation.



June 15-17, 2018: Elements of the Cosmos

Recommended for grades 6-12
, 20 SBEC credits

Application Deadline: Feb 9, 2018
Workshop Fee: Fully Funded ($100 deposit due: April 6, 2018)

The present-day universe owes its rich tapestry of elements and chemistry to the stars. Virtually all of the elements except hydrogen and helium were created by nuclear reactions in the unimaginably hot interiors of stars. At the ends of their lives, stars toss their chemical riches back into space, to be incorporated into the stuff that makes new stars and planetary systems. In this workshop we will perform hands-on, engaging activities related to stellar evolution and spectroscopy to learn how astronomers can "read" the composition of far-away sources in the light they emit. We will explore ways that the Universe creates specific elements that are key to biological systems and human technology, and see how the relative concentrations of different elements in old vs. young stars enables us to reconstruct our Galaxy's past.  Participants will also engage in night-time observations and tour McDonald Observatory to learn how astronomers use research telescopes to explore the Universe and make ground-breaking discoveries.

This workshop is supported in part by a National Science Foundation (NSF) grant. Lodging, meals, registration, and instructional materials are covered. Teachers are responsible for their own transportation.



June 19-21, 2018: Galaxies and the Hobby-Eberly Telescope Dark Energy Experiment (HETDEX)
Recommended for Grades 8-12
, 20 SBEC credits

Application Deadline: Feb 9, 2018
Workshop Fee: Fully Funded ($100 deposit due: April 6, 2018)

What components make up the universe, how did it begin, and where is it going?  Studies of distant galaxies can help shape our understanding of the universe.  Learn about new observations of millions of galaxies being made with the Hobby Eberly Telescope at McDonald Observatory as part of the Hobby Eberly Telescope Dark Energy Experiment (HETDEX) to help answer many of these questions. Perform hands-on, inquiry-based activities related to cosmology, properties of galaxies and how we observe them. Participants will also engage in inquiry-based activities related to the properties of light, diffraction, reflection, and how telescopes work. Tour McDonald Observatory and learn how astronomers use the research telescopes to explore the universe and make groundbreaking discoveries.

This workshop is supported in part by a National Science Foundation (NSF) grant. Lodging, meals, registration, and instructional materials are covered. Teachers are responsible for their own transportation.



June 23-25, 2018: Giant Magellan Telescope (GMT) Teacher Workshop

Recommended for grades 6-12
, 20 SBEC credits

Application Deadline: Feb 9, 2018
Workshop Fee: Fully Funded ($100 deposit due: April 6, 2018)

The University of Texas at Austin McDonald Observatory is a partner of the Giant Magellan Telescope project. When completed in 2022, the GMT will be among the largest telescopes in the world, extending our exploration of the universe far into the future. The "Giant Magellan Telescope teacher workshop" will take teachers in grades 6-12 on a exploration of stars, galaxies and the origin of the universe. Teachers will perform hands-on activities exploring the science topics the GMT will investigate and discoveries that it will make. Participants will also engage in inquiry-based activities related to the properties of light, diffraction, reflection, and how telescopes work, as well learning how the GMT is being designed and built. Tour McDonald Observatory and learn how astronomers use the research telescopes to explore the universe and make groundbreaking discoveries.

This workshop is supported in part by the Giant Magellan Telescope Organization and education endowments to McDonald Observatory. Lodging, meals, registration, and instructional materials are covered. Teachers are responsible for their own transportation.



July 17-19, 2018: Solar Systems & Beyond

Recommended for grades K-8
, 20 SBEC credits

Application Deadline: Feb 9, 2018
Workshop Fee: Fully Funded ($100 deposit due: April 6, 2018)

Join us as we explore 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. Build and use classroom models of the night sky, the solar system, moon phases, star charts and more. Build and use your own telescope. At night, observe the sky with the unaided eye and view a variety of celestial objects through telescopes. Tour McDonald Observatory and learn how astronomers use the research telescopes to explore the universe and make ground-breaking discoveries.

This workshop is supported in part by educational endowments to McDonald Observatory. Lodging, meals, registration, and instructional materials are covered. Teachers are responsible for their own transportation.

K-12 Professional Development Opportunities and Acknowledgements

Thanks to Our Workshop Sponsors

The Harry W. Bass, Jr. Foundation and the following educational endowments help to support McDonald Observatory's K-12 teacher programs: Cynthia and George Mitchell Foundation, Carolyn Frost Keenan and Charlie Gaines, Hugh Gragg, Lynn Lyles Brill, Leopold Tedesco, Pam and Rom Welborn, Mesa Engineering in honor of David L. Lambert, Bill and Alice Wright, and Mary Kay Hemenway. Click here for more information on creating an education endowment or making a planned gift to create an endowment.