Teacher Workshops

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

Workshops take place over four days and three 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.

Summer 2024 Workshops

Applications must be submitted by 11:59 pm CST Tuesday, February 12, 2024.

 

 

Workshop Dates Grades
Explore Our Solar System  Jun 10-13 K-8
Searching for ET: Planetary Habitability/Exoplanets Jun 24-27 5-12
Galaxies and Cosmology Jul 5-8 6-12
Lights, Color, Optics! Exploring the Properties of Photons Jul 10-13 8-12

 

June 10-13, 2024
Workshop Title: Explore Our Solar System
Grades K-8
20 Continuing Education Units

Workshop Description:

Join us as we explore our solar system through hands-on, minds-on activities that you can use in your classroom. Learn about the sun and moon, their characteristics and apparent motion, including eclipses. Explore properties and motions of planets. Make and use classroom models of the night sky, the solar system, moon phases, star charts and more. 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, and instructional materials are covered by the modest workshop fee. Teachers are responsible for their own transportation.

 

June 24-27, 2024
Workshop Title: Searching for ET: Planetary Habitability and Exoplanets
Grades 5-12
20 Continuing Education Units

Workshop Description:

Astronomers are finding and learning about new planets around other stars all the time. What do we know about these exoplanets and how do we know what we know? Explore what these new planetary systems are telling us about habitability and the possibility of life in the universe. Explore properties and motions of planets, both in our Solar System and beyond. Build and use classroom models of the night sky, the solar system, moon phases, star charts and more. Participants will also engage in night-time telescope 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, and instructional materials are covered by the modest workshop fee. Teachers are responsible for their own transportation.

 

July 5-8, 2024
Workshop Title: Galaxies and Cosmology
Grades 6-12
20 Continuing Education Units

Workshop Description:

Our Universe is filled with galaxies from near to far, along with other mysterious components (dark matter and dark energy). What were the first stars and galaxies like? What is this "dark matter," and how does it influence the cosmos, from our own Milky Way Galaxy, its formation, and its neighborhood to the largest scales we can observe? Explore how galaxies form and evolve and what distant galaxies were like in the past. We will perform hands-on, engaging classroom activities related to cosmology, dark matter, and galaxies to learn how scientists are attempting to answer these questions. Participants will also tour McDonald Observatory and engage in night-time observations 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, and instructional materials are covered by the modest workshop fee. Teachers are responsible for their own transportation.

 

July 10-13, 2024
Workshop Title: Lights, Color, Optics! Exploring the Properties of Photons
Grades 6-12
20 Continuing Education Units

Workshop Description:

Astronomers use optics, color and properties of light to analyze distant objects. In this workshop we will perform hands-on, engaging classroom activities related to reflection, refraction and diffraction to learn how scientists use the mighty photon to better understand our Universe. Participants will also tour McDonald Observatory and engage in night-time observations to learn how astronomers use 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, and instructional materials are covered by the modest workshop fee. Teachers are responsible for their own transportation.

 

More Information

On-Site Workshops

On-site workshops take place over four days at McDonald Observatory in West Texas, beginning in the evening of the first day, and ending at noon on the last day.  Participants are provided with housing, either at the Astronomers’ Lodge on Mount Locke or in other local lodging facilities.  Lodging will be in single occupancy rooms.  The $100 workshop fee covers your portion of the cost of room, meals, and workshop materials.  Payment is due upon acceptance in order to reserve a place in the workshop.  Teachers are responsible for their own transportation to and 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.

If you have any questions or want to learn more, please send an inquiry to teachers@mcdonaldobservatory.org

 

 

K-12 Education Program Support

 
We are grateful to the following organizations for their support of 2024 K-12 Education programs
  • The Fash Foundation
  • The Alfred S. Gage Foundation
  • The George and Cynthia Mitchell Foundation
  • The Meyer Levy Charitable Foundation
  • The National Science Foundation
  • Dr. Mary Kay Hemenway McDonald Observatory Outreach and Education Excellence Fund
  • Mary Ann Rankin Endowment for McDonald Observatory for UTeach Workshops
  • Friends of McDonald Observatory 
You can help support our programs through a contribution to our Annual Fund, a Friends Membership, or planned gift.