The 2020 Workshop has been CANCELLED

Unfortunately, owing to the COVID-19 pandemic, we have had to cancel the 2020 In-Service Workshop in Astronomy on cosmology.

The Penn State administration has announced that Penn State classes during this summer must largely be conduced remotely over the Internet. For details, please see PennState News.

In 2020, we are again offering an astronomy content workshop as part of our ongoing commitment to science teacher professional development.

Save the date!  Our 2020 workshop will be the following:

Image of the entire sky by the NASA WMAP satellite showing variations in the Cosmic Microwave Background


The Origin and Fate of Our Cosmos:  Understanding Big Bang Cosmology

July 20-24, 2020 (CANCELLED)


  • Please complete this application form on-line.  Applications received by April 1, 2020 will receive priority consideration, but applications after that date will be considered if spots remain available.
  • First round of decisions on applications will be announced by April 15, 2020.
  • Registration and payment information will be sent out on or before May 22, 2020.

The workshop will require a $100 registration fee.  Participating PA teachers will receive approximately 30 hours of Act 48 credit for attending (exact numbers of hours will be available when the agendas are finalized)

All sessions are held in Davey Lab on the Penn State University Park campus.  During the workshop, lodging in a hotel near campus will be provided to all attendees free of charge, and we will provide a reimbursement for most  travel expenses for teachers from PA and surrounding states (including personal vehicle mileage and tolls incurred).

The Penn State Inservice Workshops in Astronomy (PSIWA), inaugurated in summer 1996, consist of one or more week-long workshops for middle- and high-school science teachers and other educators. They are held at the main 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 intensive, requiring a full-time commitment for 5 days (and even some nights).

Current Workshop Faculty 

Niel Brandt 
headshot for Prof. Niel Brandt  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. 

Glenn Goldsborough
headshot of Mr. Glenn Goldsborough  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 2020.

Past Workshop Faculty 

Christopher Palma 
Candid photo of Prof. Palma  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
headshot of Prof. 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 has been the lead instructor for a 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 taught 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).

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:

Logo for PA Earth Science Teacher's Association

All inquiries about this website can be directed to Prof. Niel Brandt at 814-865-3509.

This publication is available in alternative media on request.

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