2006 EPO Award Recipient
Astronomy Workshops for Rural Teachers at McDonald Observatory
Investigators: Mary Kay Hemenway
University of Texas at Austin
This project will provide scholarships for 30 Texas teachers to attend a Professional Development Workshop at the McDonald Observatory during the summer of 2007. The observatory is located close to the border of Mexico in rural West Texas where schools often have few space-related resources and teach a large percentage of minorities.
Workshops are offered in the Visitors Center and offer State Board of Education Credits. The workshop activities are aligned with the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills and the National Science Education Standards. We plan to offer two workshops for grade K-8 teachers centered on exploring our solar system. Special emphasis will be devoted to topics emphasized in the grade 5 and grade 8 TAKS tests. Our workshops offer hands-on, minds-on activities highlighting the NASA/Space connection that teachers can use in their classroom. Teachers will observe celestial objects through telescopes at the Visitors Center Astronomy Park. At the workshops, teachers will receive materials that they can use in their classrooms to perform appropriate activities that they have learned within the workshop. Workshops also incorporate activities related to our NSF and NASA-sponsored project "What Are Astronomers Doing?" http://mcdonaldobservatory.org/research. For more information see: http://mcdonaldobservatory.org/teachers/profdev/.
Teachers will interact with research astronomers at meals and through tours of observatory facilities.
Program evaluation will occur during the workshop, at the conclusion of the workshop, and several months following the workshop. Follow-up interactions with the participants will occur through electronic mail. Two teachers will co-present a workshop with the PI at the Texas Conference for the Advancement of Science Teaching.