Education & Public Outreach


Lick Observatory Domes at Dusk

Education and Public Outreach

Note: For information about visiting Lick Observatory and our public programs, please click here.

UCO is committed to improving science education and science literacy in the United States. Our education and public outreach (EPO) mission is to inspire deep connections with the universe and to engage our local communities in learning about scientific practices, astronomical discoveries, and enabling technologies. By doing so, we empower our community members to be scientifically literate, to explore careers in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM), and to understand science as a human endeavor. Ultimately, we aim to improve the scientific advancement of students at all levels, of educators, and of the general public in our communities.

To achieve this mission, UCO, along with other important partners throughout California, Hawaii, and beyond, offers EPO initiatives for a variety of audiences that are uniquely enriched by UCO’s cutting-edge scientific research, instruments, and astronomers. Whether you are a teacher or other science educator looking to improve your practice, or a UC researcher or student looking for EPO opportunities, we seek to connect with you through one or more of the following programs:

Institute for Scientist & Engineer Educators (ISEE)

With its home at UC Santa Cruz’s Center for Adaptive Optics, the ISEE program prepares science and engineering graduate students and postdoctoral researchers for their educational role as future faculty members, and a wide range of other science and engineering careers. At the heart of this initiative is the ISEE Professional Development Program (PDP); a flexible, multi-year professional development opportunity primarily for science and engineering graduate students to help them develop and put new teaching skills into practice. PDP training is applicable to many general aspects of teaching and mentoring, but the program emphasizes inquiry, diversity/equity, and assessment. To learn more, please visit and

Akamai Workforce Initiative (AWI)

AWI is run by a consortium that includes ISEE and is led by the University of Hawaii at Manoa’s Institute for Astronomy, the Thirty Meter Telescope, National Solar Observatory, and many Hawaii observatories, companies, academic institutions, and community organizations. The primary goal of AWI is to build a local technical workforce that reflects the diverse demographics of the state of Hawaii. The initiative includes internships for college students, technical training, career coaching, and training for scientists and engineers to become more effective educators and mentors. AWI also played a key role in developing a new 4-year engineering technology degree program at University of Hawaii Maui College, establishing a long-term pathway for local students to pursue technical careers. The internship model used by AWI was originally developed by the Center for Adaptive Optics, and includes a range of innovative support mechanisms to advance participants into STEM careers. Participating students have been tracked for many years, and 83% have remained on a STEM pathway.     Additional information, including how to get involved, can be found at

Lick Observatory Teacher Institute (LOTI)

In partnership with the Center for Science Education at UC Berkeley’s Space Sciences Laboratory, UCO will soon launch the Lick Observatory Teacher Institute (LOTI). Each summer, LOTI will engage northern California middle and high school science teachers in STEM content in multi-day professional development workshops held on site at Lick Observatory. The goal of LOTI is to inspire and energize teachers by exposing them to the real process of astronomical research. Workshops will feature well-vetted classroom activities that have a proven track record in other teacher professional development programs. In addition, there will be tours and demonstrations of Lick Observatory’s various research instruments, as well as nighttime observing opportunities. UC scientists will participate in the workshops, providing insights for the connections between educational teaching standards and their research. We are currently planning to hold LOTI’s inaugural workshop in the summer of 2013. More information will be posted here once the schedule is final.

Lick Observatory offers a unique setting for teacher professional development: the Observatory and Visitor Center on Mount Hamilton, just 20 miles east of San Jose, California. Tours of the telescopes, discussions with the research astrophysicists in residence, and nighttime observations are an integral part of the LOTI experience. Not only will you do inquiry-based activities aligned with Common Core and Next Generation Science Standards, you will practice your new astronomy skills under the Observatory’s dark skies, weather permitting, and partner with trained and nationally recognized astronomy educators.


How To Apply

Go to the Online Application here

2015 Schedule, Fees and Information

The LOTI workshop will take place on July 7 - 9, 2015 at the Lick Observatory.

The LOTI workshop is available at $575/participant. This fee covers lodging, meals, program fees, and instructional materials. A $100 deposit is due April 10, 2015, and the remaining fee is due May 15, 2015.

The LOTI workshop includes both day and night instructional sessions, materials, daytime tours, evening observing (weather permitting), lodging, and meals. Shared dorm rooms have been reserved for registered participants only.  Participants who do not wish to share a room with another participant are responsible for reserving and paying for any other additional hotel room arrangements in the nearby San Jose area for themselves or accompanying family or friends. If you are participating in a workshop and will be arranging your own room, please let us know at least 45 days in advance of the workshop. Please be aware that some of the telescope observing activities will last until late hours.

All applications must be submitted by March 11, 2015. You should receive notification as to the status of your application on March 20, 2015. For ALL accepted teachers to the LOTI workshop, we require a $100 deposit to be made to our secure online system by April 10, 2015 to hold your reservations. If the deposit is not paid by this date, your spot will be given to the next qualified applicant.

Payment and $100 Deposit Refund Policy

If you are accepted into the LOTI workshop:

Suggestion: If you are accepted for a workshop and require funds for travel, we recommend you contact your school administration or parents' organization. Some teachers have found support from local businesses and industries in their communities. And some have done fundraising events such as bake sales. Lick Observatory does not have any travel funds available for participants. For the workshop, we post a school email address for each participant so that travel/carpooling arrangements can be coordinated.

Workshop Description

Lick Observatory Teacher Institute (LOTI)
July 7-9, 2015
Recommended for middle school, high school, and lower division undergraduate school instructors

Application Deadline: March 11, 2015
Workshop Fee: $575 ($100 deposit due: April 10, 2015)

Come learn ideas for teaching science and engineering practices, cross-cutting concepts and key Common Core standards within the context of astronomy. Investigate ways of using astronomical data in your classroom using well-vetted, inquiry and standards-based classroom activities. The 3-day/2-Night workshop will feature tours and demonstrations of research facilities at Lick Observatory, as well as nighttime observing with research telescopes. UC astronomers will participate in the workshop, providing insights for the connections between educational standards and their research. Fees cover lodging, meals, registration, and instructional materials. Teachers are responsible for their own transportation.

Support UCO’s EPO Programs

UCO is looking to improve and grow its EPO offerings. An exciting new partnership with The Tech Museum of Innovation promises to greatly expand UCO’s EPO impact throughout the greater San Jose metropolitan area and the Silicon Valley. Through this and our other EPO efforts, including new initiatives to come, UCO is making a significant contribution to science education and science literacy in the communities where we work. If you would like to help, please consider supporting UCO with a financial or in-kind donation. To find out how, please click here.