2017 Workshops

In 2017, 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 2017 workshops will include:

Image of the simulated universe at the current time with at a scale of 200 megaparsecs per sideComputers and the Universe,  June 19 – 23, 2017
This is a new workshop that will focus on computers in astronomy, scientific computations and data analysis, visualization, and applications of specific computer methods.

The agenda has been posted.



Artist's impression of a high-velocity wind (white) being launched from the surface of an accretion disk (red/yellow) around a supermassive black hole (black central dot). To set the scale, the black hole's size in this image is comparable to that of the inner Solar System. Distinct absorption in the ultraviolet part of the spectrum is produced when light from the accretion disk passes through the wind. Credit: NASA/CXC and Nahks Tr'Ehnl.

Black Holes:  Gravity’s Fatal Attraction,  July 17 – 21, 2017

This is an updated version of our successful workshop on this topic that has been offered several times prior to and including 2013.



  • To apply, please complete this application form.  For full consideration, please complete the form by April 30, 2017.
  • First round of decisions on applications will be announced by May 8, 2017.
  • Registration and payment information will be sent out on or before May 15, 2017.

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).  Participating teachers can opt to complete one or both workshops for 2 graduate credits, and an additional fee of $250 for registration will apply.

All sessions are held in Davey Lab on the Penn State University Park campus.  During the workshop, lodging near campus will be provided and we will provide a reimbursement for some travel expenses.


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, in the heart of Central 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.

Yuexing Li
Headshot photo of Prof. Yuexing Cindy Li Associate Professor of Astronomy and Astrophysics at Penn State is the newest instructor to take part in the workshop program.  She will teach the “Computers and The Universe” workshop for the first time in 2017.  Her research interests include studying the formation, evolution and multi-wavelength properties of galaxies and quasars through the use of computer simulations.  She is the director of the new Penn State Cyber-Laboratory for Astronomy, Materials, and Physics (CyberLAMP).

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 
Headshot photo of Prof. Eric FeigelsonDistinguished Senior Scholar and 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, Dr. Yuexing Li, 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: