Teachers' Workshop in Astronomy & Astrophysics

Professor Tammy Smecker-Hane has received a grant from the UCI FOCUS program, funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF), to do science outreach with the UCI Observatory. As part of our comprehensive program we will hold a workshop each summer about astronomy & astrophysics for science and math teachers from local elementary, middle and high schools. Other astronomers who might be interested in holding similar workshops can read about ours on our poster entitled "Building a Successful Teachers' Workshop in Astronomy & Astrophysics", which we presented at the 207th annual meeting of the American Astronomical Society in January, 2006.

The material presented at the workshop will be geared to teachers of grades 6 - 12, but it can be adapted for use with lower grades. Preference in admission will be given to teachers from the Compton/Newport-Mesa/Santa Ana school districts, which are participating the NSF-sponsored FOCUS program, but teachers from other districts will be included if space permits. The attendance is limited to 25 teachers. Teachers from FOCUS schools will be paid a stipend of $200 to attend the workshop.

Our workshop is a 2 day-long event that forms part of a larger, two week-long Earth Science workshop. Our fourth annual workshop will be held on August 4 - 5, 2008, from 8am - 3pm at the University of California, Irvine, in Room 121 of the Multi-Purpose Science & Technology Building, which is building #415 on the campus map (see the link below). Parking passes and lunches will be provided for all workshop attendees.


Each teacher will receive a kit of materials with exciting and innovative ideas for adding astronomy and physics to their curriculum. The workshop will include:

  • Lectures on: (1) Introduction to the Solar System, Stars and Galaxies, (2) Basic Astronomy: Motions in the Night Sky, Moon Phases, Eclipses, and the Seasons, (3) The Physics of Light and (4) Current Hot Topics in Astronomy
  • An introductory astronomy textbook. We sincerely thank W.W. Norton, Inc., for donating copies of "21st Century Astronomy" by J. Hester, et al. for the Summer 2006 workshop.
  • Discussion of techniques for effective teaching and learning of astronomy and physics
  • Two books, "The Universe in at Your Fingertips" and "More Universe at Your Fingertips", published by the Astronomical Society of the Pacific, which are filled with innovative, hands-on, fun classroom activites designed to teach astronomy & physics to K-12 students and numerous examples of incorporating these into curriculum plans for various grade levels. Also included are numerous references and resources for a wide variety of topics in astronomy.
  • A discussion of Contemporary Laboratory Exercises in Astronomy (CLEA), a set of computer exercises in astronomy, developed with sponsorship from the NSF, that are applicable to high school science classes.  We will show the Asteroid Astrometry and the Hubble Distance-Redshift Relationship exercises as examples.
  • A demonstration using telescopes from the UCI Observatory to image the Sun to view sunspots and solar flares
  • Examples of classroom demonstration kits, slide sets and images on CDRom that are available for free on the Internet or from commercial vendors designed to enliven your lectures
  • Each teacher will get the choice of taking home either a Solar System slide set or a CDRom of Hubble Space Telescope images
  • Free posters, pictures and "Galaxy Trading Cards" from the Space Telescope Science Institute

To apply to attend the workshop please download the following two forms, fill them out and send them to Dr. Tammy Smecker-Hane by email or regular mail.  Communication by email is preferred, but not required. After submitting these forms, you will be contacted regarding your registration. Registration will be on a first-come first-serve basis, and preference will be given to teachers in the school districts that are part of the UCI FOCUS program: Compton, Newport/Mesa and Santa Ana school districts until June 15. Teachers from other school districts will be placed on a waiting list, and we will open registration to them on June 15, but the teachers or their school districts must pay $215 for the cost of the workshop (this does not include a $200 stipend for the teacher). A limited number of scholarships for teachers in underperforming schools, as judged by their API score, may be available.

We encourage you to share this information with other teachers who might be interested. You can also send us your name, address and email address and we'll send you an early notice when registration opens for next summer's workshop.

For more information please contact us at:

Dr. Tammy Smecker-Hane
Associate Professor & Director of the UCI Observatory
Mailing Address: Department of Physics & Astronomy
       4129 Frederick Reines Hall
       University of California
       Irvine, CA 92697-4575
Office: 4109F Frederick Reines Hall
Phone: (949) 824-7773
Email: tsmecker@uci.edu