Monday, July 09, 2007

A few days worse for the wear

As I mentioned in my last post, since July 6 I have been helping with a continuing education workshop for science teachers. The workshop, held here at the McDonald Observatory, is hosting 15 teachers from as far away as Kentucky and Oregon.

Unfortunately, at the end of the second day of the workshop, I came down with a very nasty stomach bug (one that nabbed a couple other astronomers and several people in the nearby town of Ft. Davis, TX), and I spent the 7th of July hiding in my room. Yesterday I was able to help out again, though with a nap break in the afternoon. Thankfully, the two other facilitators for this workshop are more than capable of keeping things running, and the teachers are having a great time and learning lots of astronomy and classroom activities. In the coming days I should have a few pictures to share.

These workshops are important. McDonald hosts several workshops each summer, each geared toward teachers of a specific age group, from Kindergarten up through high school. In the present day, when standardized testing topics dominate the curriculum in most public schools, it can be hard for teachers to introduce "non-essential" topics such as astronomy. In each of these workshops, we present activities designed in coordination with educators. These activities present astronomy in ways that fulfill required science curriculum topics, often by teaching the physics that underlies every aspect of astronomy.

Our hope is that these teachers will take the activities we perform with them back to their classrooms and incorporate them in to their science lesson plans. Many students appreciate seeing how the basic physics they are learning is still being used in cutting-edge scientific research. And, of course, we hope that these plans will keep astronomy in the eye of students throughout their education.

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