Teacher Workshops

McDonald Observatory offers a spectacular setting for teacher workshops in the Davis Mountains of West Texas.

Workshops take place over three days and two nights and include telescope tours, discussions with resident researchers, and nighttime observations. Educators experience inquiry-based activities aligned with science and mathematics teaching standards, practice astronomy skills under the Observatory’s dark skies, and work with nationally recognized astronomy educators. Participants receive Continuing Professional Education credits.

 

Workshop Dates Grades Fee

Mysteries of the Universe, Dark Matter, Galaxies, & More

June 18-20

6-12

$100

Elements of the Cosmos

June 23-25

8-12

$100

Galaxies & HETDEX

June 27-29

6-12

$100

Explore Our Solar System

July 8-10

K-8

$100

Application Process

Summer workshops are open to educators currently teaching in K-12 classrooms in the United States. Due to overwhelming interest in these workshops, applications are required. Complete the 2019 Summer Workshop Application now. Applications must be submitted by February 28, 2019.  

Summer Workshop Information 

Workshops take place over three days at the McDonald Observatory in West Texas. Participants are provided with housing in double occupancy rooms at the Astronomer’s Lodge on Mount Locke, rooms are shared with other educators. The $100 workshop fee is non refundable and covers the cost of room, meals, and all workshop materials. The fee is due once teachers are accepted to reserve their position. Teachers are responsible for their own transportation to/from McDonald Observatory.

All programs include both day and night instructional sessions, materials, daytime tours, evening observing (weather permitting), lodging, and meals.  Please be aware that some of the telescope observing activities will last until late hours.

Application Deadline                                            February 28, 2019

Teacher Notifications                                            March 29, 2019

Payment Deadline                                                  April 12, 2019     

Payment & Cancellation Policy

If you are accepted into a workshop, a $100 fee is required by April 12, 2019.

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

Workshop Descriptions

 

June 19 – 21, 2019: Galaxies and the Hobby-Eberly Telescope Dark Energy Experiment (HETDEX)

Recommended for grades 6-12
, 20 SBEC credits

Workshop Fee: $100 

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. 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.



June 23-25, 2019:Elements of the Cosmos

Recommended for grades 6-12, 20 SBEC credits
Workshop Fee: $100 

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.



June 27-29, 2019: Mysteries of the Universe: Dark Matter, Galaxies & More
Recommended for Grades 8-12
, 20 SBEC credits

Workshop Fee: $100 

What is the Universe made of? We now know that most of the content of the Universe is dark and not very well explained. So what is Dark Matter and how does it influence our own Milky Way Galaxy, its formation, and its neighborhood?  All of these exciting mysteries are questions we want to explore more. In this workshop, we will perform hands-on, engaging classroom activities related to cosmology, dark matter, and galaxies to learn how we’re attempting to answer these questions and more. 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.



July 8-10, 2019: Explore Our Solar System  
Recommended for grades K-8, 20 SBEC credits

Workshop Fee: $100 

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.


 

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.