Austin, TX — The Meadows Foundation of Dallas is granting McDonald
Observatory $105,000 to support its K-12 educational programs over the
next three years.

The grant will fund teacher professional development workshops and
presentations, demonstrations, and hands-on activities for students at
the new McDonald Observatory Visitors Center near Fort Davis, Texas.
Programs at the Center will use astronomy-based activities to promote
both the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills and the National
Science Education Standards.

“We want to excite Texas students about careers in science and technology=
and to provide teachers with the tools and information to do the same,”
said Sandra Preston, Director of Public Information and Education for
McDonald Observatory. “This grant will go a long way toward enabling
us to fulfill our public education mission.”

The new 12,000-square-foot Visitors Center will begin hosting teachers
and students when it opens early next year. Inside, a large laboratory-style
classroom with advanced audio and video capabilities will be used for
teacher workshops, as well as student field-trip activities. The Visitors
Center also contains the $1.1 million interactive “Decoding Starlight” exhibit
that explains how astronomers learn the secrets of the heavens, and a 90-seat
theater with state-of-the-art audio and video technology. Outside, the
Visitors Center includes two large telescopes in 20-foot domes, and a large
amphitheater of rock benches where Observatory personnel will offer
tours of the constellations under one of the darkest night skies in
North America.

In addition, teachers and students will be able to tour the 9.2-meter
Hobby-Eberly Telescope (one of the largest telescopes in the world)
and the Harlan J. Smith 2.7-meter telescope (a large research telescope
used every clear night of the year).

The Meadows Foundation is a private philanthropic institution
established in 1948 by Algur H. and Virginia Meadows to benefit
the people of Texas. The Foundation’s mission is to assist the people
and institutions of Texas to improve the quality and circumstances of
life for themselves and future generations.

Foundation grants support work in fields of art and culture, civic and
public affairs, education, health, and human services. The foundation
also has a particular philanthropic interest in three areas: public
education (particularly in the areas of early child development,
enhanced reading skills and teacher preparation), mental health
and the environment.