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, writing for and speaking to audiences ranging from elementary school children to college faculty. His extensive teaching experience, which spans all levels from preschool through graduate school, includes having founded and run a private science summer school for elementary and middle school children and teaching more than fifty college classes in astronomy, physics, mathematics, and education. He has received numerous awards for his teaching and writing, including the American Institute of Physics Science Communication Award.
Dr. Bennett is the lead 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 1.5 million copies. He has written six 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 (Big Kid Science, 2014), which won the Colorado Book Award for general nonfiction; What is Relativity? (Columbia University Press, 2014); On Teaching Science (Big Kid Science, 2014); and A Global Warming Primer (Big Kid Science, 2016).
For children, Dr. Bennett is the creator and author of the award-winning series “Science Adventures with Max the Dog,” which includes Max Goes to the Space Station, Max Goes to the Moon, Max Goes to Mars, and Max Goes to Jupiter; and of the Earth science focused book 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 in January 2014, they have been read by astronauts for children around the world. His latest book for children, I, Humanity, was selected for the second Story Time From Space launch, and joined his other books on the International Space Station in December 2015. Because his textbook The Cosmic Perspective was also taken into space (during the 2009 Space Shuttle servicing mission to the Hubble Space Telescope), Dr. Bennett has now had a total of seven books launched into space.
Among his other major endeavors, Dr. Bennett 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 System on the National Mall in Washington, DC. The Voyage model is now being replicated (through the Voyage National Program) in many other cities around the United States.
Dr. Bennett gives back to the community in many ways. He has donated more than 24,000 copies of his books to teachers and school libraries in more than 60 countries through his “Max Goes to Schools” donation program, and has presented in-person readings at more than 100 elementary schools. Through his company, Big Kid Science, he is a leading supporter of Story Time From Space and of the Voyage National Program. He is also actively engaged in outreach through public speaking, including a “relativity tour” that took him to 25 cities in 2015 and a “global warming tour” in progress for 2016. 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 Otis.