Educator Professional Development

McDonald Observatory offers a spectacular setting for teacher professional development in the Davis Mountains of West Texas. For the health and safety of our staff and participants, our Teacher Professional Development Workshops are going virtual for Summer 2021.

Summer 2021 Teacher Workshops 

McDonald Observatory will be offering four Teacher Professional Development Workshops virtually in the summer 2021. Content will be presented in a synchronous/asynchronous format over the course of a week, earning participants 8 CPE hours. 

Discover the Solar System (Grades K-8)

Over the course of a week, using a combination of recorded videos, independent assignments, and live on-line activities and discussions, teachers will discover patterns in the Sun-Earth system and learn about planets in our solar system. Using common materials from around the house, teachers will experience great activities for their K-8 classrooms. Content includes a live solar viewing (weather permitting), solar system models, early models of the universe, and more, totaling 8 CPE hours.  

Dates:  June 14-18 (Initial session June 14, 11:00 am CDT) or July 20-23 (Initial session July 20, 11:00 am CDT)

Galaxies and Dark Energy (Grades 6-12)

What is this thing we call Dark Energy?  What’s the ultimate fate of the Universe?  We’re not able to answer either of these questions, but teachers who join us for this workshop will learn about galaxies, about the expansion of the universe, and about the Hobby-Eberly Telescope Dark Energy Experiment (HETDEX).  This workshop will total 8 CPE hours.  Teachers will experience a series of activities centered around galaxies and universe expansion.  There will be live chats, videos to watch, and some will be independent assignments.  All the activities use common materials found around the house or classroom, and are ready for you to share with your students.  We will take you on a virtual tour of our biggest telescope, and then conclude the week with a live chat with a dark energy astronomer. 

Dates:  June 29-July 2 (Initial session June 29 11:00 am CDT) or July 27-30 (Initial session July 27, 1:30 pm CDT).

K-12 Education Program Support

We are grateful to the following individuals and organizations for their support of K-12 Education programs

The Harry W. Bass Jr. Foundation, Albert and Ethel Herzstein Charitable Foundation, the Fash Foundation, the Permian Basin Area Foundation, and the following educational endowments help to support McDonald Observatory's K-12 education 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, Mary Ann Rankin Endowment for UTeach Workshops, and Mary Kay Hemenway. Additional support is provided by the National Science Foundation.

You can support our programs through a contribution to our Annual Fund, a Friends Membership,or planned gift to create an endowment.