'Astronomy Day from McDonald Observatory' Will Reach Thousands of Texas Middle-School Students

4 September 2007

FORT DAVIS, Texas — The University of Texas at Austin McDonald Observatory will hold three state-wide, interactive videoconferences with Texas students on Friday, Sept. 14, in celebration of Astronomy Day.

The event is called “Astronomy Day from McDonald Observatory.” It aims to teach Texas students in grades 5-8 about the Sun and the solar system in a way not usually possible in a standard classroom setting.

With the help of the Connect2Texas program based at the state’s Region XI Education Service Center in Fort Worth, access to the videoconference will be available to schools around the state, reaching thousands of students.

The program will feature the Observatory’s K-12 education coordinator, Marc Wetzel, guiding students in making their own scale model of the solar system. Weather permitting, he also will show students live views of the Sun using specially equipped telescopes at the Frank N. Bash Visitors Center at McDonald Observatory.

Dr. Steve Odewahn, an astronomer who studies the universe with one of the largest telescopes in the world, the 9.2-meter Hobby-Eberly Telescope at McDonald Observatory, will take questions from the students.

The event’s content aligns with the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS) and Texas Assessment for Knowledge and Skills (TAKS).

Astronomy Day from McDonald Observatory is funded by a grant from The Meyer Levy Charitable Foundation.

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Notes to Editors: Information about specific grade-level TEKS for the program, as well as pre- and post-videoconference activities for classrooms, are available online from McDonald Observatory at http://mcdonaldobservatory.org/astroday.

Additional information can be found at the Connect2Texas site: http://www.connect2texas.net/.