McDonald Observatory Announces Summer 2003 Professional Development Workshops for Science Teachers

16 May 2003

McDonald Observatory is gearing up to host teachers for its summer 2003 Summer Professional Development Workshops. Science teachers from across the state and nation are invited to register for these unique workshops, which take place at the new McDonald Observatory Visitors Center in the peaceful Davis Mountains of West Texas. All summer workshops are certified by the State Board of Education to provide teachers 20 hours of continuing education credit. Each workshop includes astronomy activities aligned with the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills, Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills, and the National Science Education Standards.

Teachers can select from two different workshops and several different dates:

Exploring Our Solar System

(June 11-13, June 25-27, July 9-11)
This workshop is open to teachers of all grades, but is especially recommended for teachers of grades K-6. Teachers will explore our solar system through hands-on, minds-on activities. Daytime activities emphasize basic concepts, including the motions celestial objects. Participants will observe the Sun safely using professional-quality telescopes. At night, teachers will observe the sky with the unaided eye and learn to use telescopes and binoculars.

The Sky: Day and Night Observations

(June 15-17, June 30-July 2, July 13-15)
This workshop is open to teachers of all grades, but is especially recommended for teachers of grades 6–12. Teachers will be immersed in astronomy under dark West Texas skies. This hands-on, minds-on workshop will engage them in activities centered on the solar system, science and technology, and astronomical observing. Our Decoding Starlight exhibit offers teachers an interactive learning experience about light, stars, and spectroscopy. Astronomical observing activities will help them develop basic astronomy skills. They will exercise these skills to find celestial objects such as planets, nebulae, star clusters, and galaxies using professional quality telescopes.

"It is very important for the future of Texas to excite our kids about careers in science and engineering," said McDonald Observatory Director Frank Bash. "Astronomy is a very good way to do this."

Each three-day, two-night workshop is $320, including lodging and meals. Some scholarships for teachers in Texas Region 18* are available thanks to the generous donations of various donors, including: The Meadows Foundation of Texas; Mr. Joe M. Parsley; Mrs. Jan Groebe; The Union Pacific Foundation; The Abell-Hanger Foundation; Mr. David N. Grimes; and Mr. John De La Garza, Jr.

For scholarship information, application forms or more information on the workshops, visit us online at or contact Education Coordinator Marc Wetzel by phone at 432-426-3672 or email at

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NOTE TO EDITORS: High-resolution photographs of McDonald Observatory, including the telescopes and the Visitors Center, are available online at:

*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.

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