2015 ESSP Workshops


  • July 19-24, 2015 at Penn State University Park

Engaging Your Students in Astronomy

Help us build a simulated Solar System where the planets safely orbit the Sun, instead of colliding with the Sun or escaping into space.  Kinesthetically orbit the Sun and see how planets built up from the simplest building blocks of gas and dust. Activities will be grounded in Claims-Evidence-Reasoning

The Solar System is not simply a collection of nearby objects; instead, they are integrally connected to each other through the solar system's formation. Billions of years after the formation, we find observable patterns in the properties of the planets and moons that teach us how they must have formed. While we have largely figured out the story of our solar system and earth's place in it, recent observations of other solar systems around other stars are forcing astronomers to reevaluate how common our own story is in the context of the rest of the universe. This workshop engages teachers in innovative approaches to teaching solar system phenomena, while learning new astronomy themselves. Teachers will explore earth's night sky and the rest of the solar system with the Starry Night software package in order to learn how they can promote their students' deep understanding of astronomical phenomena. We will also be focusing on the scientific practices specific to astronomy, since these are rarely included in astronomy curricula.

Prior to the workshop, participants will complete a common non-technical read, participate in an online discussion, and view key videos as needed to develop a common foundational content background. Participants will bring samples of current curricular materials and student work to share, discuss and revise. All curricular materials and exercises used during the workshop will be provided for participants. We strongly encourage teams of teachers from the same school or district to apply. This can include both horizontal (within a grade level) or vertical (across grade levels) teams across. Participants will be required to attend three follow-up meetings during the academic year - The Pennsylvania Earth Science Teachers Association (PAESTA) conference at Penn State Brandywine, and two additional meetings in their region/district.


  • July 26-31, 2015 at Penn State Brandywine

The Water Cycle

Where does our household water come from? This simple question has a complex answer, and forms the focus of our summer 2015 ESSP workshop. We will explore the life of our planet's most precious resource from rain and snowfall, through surface and subsurface pathways, and finally into the oceans. Along the way, we will explore the biogeochemical factors that define "water quality", carry out chemical analyses of local natural waterways, and apply quantitative analysis of authentic data from national and local web resources. Workshop resources will include a suite of classroom activities based on a content storyline for the water cycle, all of which use inquiry-based methodologies including the claims-evidence-reasoning framework.