Astronomer, Author, and Professor
FAVORITE CHILDREN’S BOOK:
Jeffrey Bennett holds a B.A. in Biophysics from the University of California at San Diego and an M.S. and Ph.D. in Astrophysics from the University of Colorado at Boulder. He specializes in mathematics and science education, spending most of his time as a writer, along with speaking to audiences ranging from elementary school children to college faculty, and offering teacher in-service workshops. He has taught extensively at all levels, including having founded and run a private science summer school for elementary and middle school children. At the college level, he has taught more than fifty classes in astronomy, physics, mathematics, and education. He is the author of best-selling college textbooks in four distinct subject areas: astronomy, mathematics, statistics, and astrobiology (life in the universe); together, these books have sold more than 1 million copies.
He has written four critically acclaimed books for general public: On the Cosmic Horizon(Addison Wesley, 2001); Beyond UFOs (Princeton University Press, 2008/2011), which was selected by Miami University as their Convocation book for all incoming students to read in 2008/9; Math for Life (Updated Edition from Big Kid Science, 2014), which won the Colorado Book Award for general nonfiction; and What is Relativity? (Columbia University Press, 2014).
He is also the creator and author of the children’s series “Science Adventures with Max the Dog,” which includes Max Goes to the Moon, Max Goes to Mars, and Max Goes to Jupiter, and of The Wizard Who Saved the World. These five children’s titles were selected by the Story Time From Space program as the first set of books to be launched to the International Space Station; launched on Jan. 9, 2014, they are being read by astronauts for children around the world. Through his “Max Goes to Schools” donation program, he has donated more than 23,000 copies of his children’s books to elementary school libraries in more than 60 countries. Dr. Bennett and his book Max Goes to the Moon were recognized with the 2013 AIP Science Communication Award.
Among his other major endeavors, he served two years as a Visiting Senior Scientist at NASA Headquarters, where he was the first scientist hired within a science division specifically to leverage science missions for education. Working closely with NASA’s Education Division and teams working with the Hubble Space Telescope and other science missions, he was credited with helping bridge the cultural divide between education and science. In addition, he created the Initiative to Develop Education through Astronomy (originally IDEA, later called IDEAS), developed the Perspectives From Space concept (and creating its poster set) that was ultimately adopted as the global theme for International Space Year, and helped start the program known as Flight Opportunities for Science Teacher EnRichment (FOSTER), which flew teachers on the Kuiper Airborne Observatory and evolved to become the Airborne Astronomy Ambassadors program that now flies teachers on the SOFIA airborne observatory.
Perhaps his most visible achievements have been his work in developing educational scale models of the solar system. He proposed the idea for and helped develop both the Colorado Scale Model Solar System (on the University of Colorado campus) and the Voyage Scale Model Solar Systemon the National Mall in Washington, DC.
Among his current projects, he is the founder of Big Kid Science, a company dedicated to educating and inspiring children with the wonders of science. When not working, he enjoys participating in masters swimming and the daily adventures of life with his wife Lisa, children Grant and Brooke, and dog Cosmo.