2016 & 2017 Workshops

We are currently in the planning stages for our 2017 workshops.  Titles, dates, and application procedures will be posted in early January.  For questions in the meantime, please do not hesitate to contact us directly.  In the meantime, the information below still refers to our 2016 workshops.


In 2016, we will continue to run our workshop program in collaboration with Central Intermediate Unit #10 (CIU#10).  For teachers who attended a workshop prior to 2015, there are a number of changes to the workshop program compared to past years.  For more information see our 2015 post on the Workshop News page.

Save the date!  Our 2016 workshops will include:

The Origin and Fate of our Cosmos:  Understanding Big Bang Cosmology July 18 – 22, 2016

wmapThis workshop will be very similar to the successful 2015 workshop.  You can review the 2015 workshop page for an overview of the content.


2004-10-b-web_printStars and Stellar Evolution  July 25 – 29, 2016

This will be a new workshop with content that overlaps substantially with several that we offered years ago.


  • To apply, please complete this application form.  For full consideration, please complete the form by April 30, 2016.  Updated!
  • First round of decisions on applications will be announced by April 15, 2016.
  • Registration and payment information will be sent out on or before May 1, 2016.

Each workshop will require a $100 registration fee.  Participating PA teachers will receive approximately 30 hours of Act 48 hours for attending (exact numbers of hours will be available when the agendas are finalized).  During the workshop, lodging near campus will be provided and we will provide a reimbursement for some travel expenses.

For those teachers who need to earn graduate credit in order to attend, we will likely be able to provide this for 2016.  Contact Chris Palma by email (cpalma at psu.edu) for more information.


The Penn State Inservice Workshops in Astronomy (PSIWA), inaugurated in summer 1996, consists of one or more week-long workshops for middle- and high-school science teachers and other educators. They are held at the University Park campus in State College, PA, which lies at the center of Pennsylvania. The Workshops are offered by Penn State’s Department of Astronomy & Astrophysics.

The Workshops provide a multifaceted experience in modern astronomy. They combine lectures on astronomical topics, discussions on their presentation in the classroom, examination of multimedia curricular materials (texts, animations, simulations, software), hands-on classroom laboratory experiments with inexpensive equipment, nighttime observing and use of a planetarium, and other inquiry-based activities. While one central instructor will guide the Workshop, guest presentations by other faculty, research astronomers, science education faculty, and secondary school Master Teachers are also included. The Workshops are very intensive, requiring a full-time commitment for 5 days (and even some nights).

If you are looking for information from the summer of 2013 and before, that is still available at our previous address:  http://www.personal.psu.edu/cxp137/psiwa/.

Current Workshop Faculty 

Niel Brandt 
Niel  Verne M. Willaman Professor of Astronomy and Astrophysics at Penn State, will be the principal instructor for the cosmology course. Winner of the prestigious Sloan Fellowship and NSF Career Development grants for research, he studies black holes at the center of quasars and other galaxies at X-ray wavelengths. Niel is committed to educational outreach and also is the past administrator for the PJAS Astronomy awards. 

Christopher Palma 
cpalma_planewave  Senior Lecturer and Head of the Undergraduate Program for Astronomy and Astrophysics at Penn State, he also served recently as the Associate Director of Outreach in the Eberly College of Science. He has been the lead instructor for several workshops in past summers and will co-teach both 2016 workshops. His teaching interests include informal science education for K-12 students. His research interests include the study of globular clusters, dwarf galaxies, and stellar populations. 

Kevin Luhman
Professor of Astronomy and Astrophysics at Penn State, has been a co-instructor for several previous workshops. He studies the formation of stars, brown dwarfs, and planets through optical and infrared observations with ground- and space-based telescopes. He will be the lead instructor for the stars and stellar evolution workshop.

Glenn Goldsborough
349da5d  Physics and Astronomy Teacher at Pennsbury High School, is an alumnus of past workshops and has spent nearly a decade as a co-instructor for many different workshops.  He will be returning to co-teach the cosmology workshop in 2015.

Past Workshop Faculty 

Eric Feigelson 
Professor of Astronomy and Astrophysics at Penn State, inaugurated the program and is a past lead instructor for the Space Astronomy and Stars & Planets workshops. He is a leader in undergraduate science education at Penn State, and has research interests in X-ray astronomy, star formation and astrostatistics. 

Workshop support

Since the workshop program began, we have been fortunate to receive funding and other support from a number of sources.  Current and past funding sources include the following awards:

  • National Science Foundation awards to Dr. Niel Brandt, Dr. Kevin Luhman, and Dr. Eric Feigelson
  • National Science Foundation Earth and Space Science Partnership
  • NASA Space Telescope Science Institute Hubble Telescope Cycle E/PO program
  • NASA Chandra X-ray Observatory Cycle E/PO program
  • NASA ADP E/PO supplement program
  • NASA Swift mission E/PO

Current and former partners in the workshop program are: