Black Holes 2017

In 2017, this workshop has received funding from the National Science Foundation to support teachers.  Scholarships will be available for full support of attendance, including travel, lodging, and meals for teachers whose districts do not support those costs.  The only exception is the $100 registration fee, which we are unable to waive.  

Teachers who teach in districts that serve students from traditionally underrepresented and underserved populations will be given first priority for all scholarship funds.  Pennsylvania teachers who come from districts that are part of CIU#10 are particularly encouraged to apply.

Required Pre-course work:

Workshop Content:

  • Draft agenda (updated June 2017)
  • Each year, we collect teaching resources related to workshop content, and we will continue to use many of the resources from our past workshop offering.

This workshop is intended to introduce teachers to the predicted properties of black holes and the astronomical evidence for their existence. Along the way we will discuss modern ideas about the nature of space, time, and gravity. Some key topics to be covered include the following:

  • What is a black hole?
  • Predicted properties of black holesArtist'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.
  • Stars and their fates
  • How to detect a black hole
  • Black holes in our backyard
  • Gamma-ray bursts and their relation to black-hole formation
  • The supermassive black hole at the center of the Milky Way Galaxy
  • Supermassive black holes in galactic nuclei
  • Black-hole pyrotechnics: Active galaxies and jets
  • Feedback from supermassive black holes into galaxies
  • Spinning black holes
  • Hawking radiation: Are black holes really black?
  • Singularities. What’s inside a black hole?
  • Black holes and cosmology

The program for this workshop will include lectures on the subject material; discussions about pedagogical approaches; hands-on activities; examinations of curricular materials; nighttime observing; and guest presentations by Department members.

Workshop textbooks:

Gravity’s Fatal Attraction:  Black Holes in the Universe by Begelman and Rees, Cambridge University Press, 2009







Black Holes and Time Warps by Kip Thorne, W.W. Norton, 1995