2009 Annual Science Report

Pennsylvania State University Reporting  |  JUL 2008 – AUG 2009

EPO Activity: Telescopes: The Tools of Astronomical Inquiry, Science Workshop for Educators

Project Progress

14 teachers participated in this five-day, 2-graduate credit workshop designed to explore how astronomy is different than most sciences. Astronomers rarely get to design their own experiments, instead, we rely on the universe to set them up for us, and we use telescopes to observe the results. In this course, teachers built simple telescopes, investigated how to use more sophisticated telescopes, and learned the technology behind the latest billion dollar class instruments used for modern research. Teachers investigated the properties of telescopes (magnification, field of view, light gathering power, and angular resolution), took digital images, and learned how to make measurements from astronomical images.

Support to teachers included on-campus housing, meals and partial travel support. Fourteen teachers attended, with 1 out-of-state NAI EPO recommended teachers receiving full travel support and tuition stipend. The workshop was approved by the Pennsylvania Department of Education for Act 48 Professional Development credit.

The workshop evaluation included a daily formative evaluation, an online summative professional development questionnaire developed by the Horizon Research, Inc. and a small focus group discussion. The evaluation techniques were intended to measure the effectiveness of workshop design for increasing teacher content knowledge and improving student learning in the middle and secondary classroom.