Don's Biography




I've taught physics for over forty years -- "since the crust cooled," as I've been known to say -- in settings including a small college in Liberia, West Africa, a Turkish high school, and public high schools in Pleasanton, California, where I retired from classroom teaching in 1994. I've been working with science teachers at the Exploratorium since 1985, and was deeply involved in the development of the Exploratorium Science Snackbook, published in 1991. The Snackbook shows teachers how to use simple materials to build classroom versions of over 100 Exploratorium exhibits. More recently, I co-authored (with Paul Doherty) Square Wheels, with 31 additional science snacks, about half of which are based on Exploratorium exhibits, and half on activities developed by staff and teachers at the Exploratorium Teacher Institute. The original working title of Square Wheels was Snackbook 2, and its designation as An Exploratorium Science Snackbook, makes it essentially the second volume in what is hoped will be an ongoing series in the "science snack" spirit.


My interest in using simple materials to teach physics and physical science was evident even when our own kids were young, and used to find their missing toys in dad's physics lab! In 1983, I began "Physics Day" at Great America, an amusement park in Santa Clara, California. This event has grown from 90 students to over 20,000. Although I'm intrigued by the physics of roller coasters, when it comes to actually riding, I admit to being a merry-go-round kind of guy, and beg off the wild rides -- pleading "Certainly it's not fear; it's my inner ear!" Continuing my lifelong interest in toys, I was the author of Lego Crazy Action Contraptions, published by Klutz Press, and am thoroughly enjoying the experience of having our grandchildren build science toys with grandpa!


I received a B.S. in Engineering from Stanford University and an M.A. in Science Education from Columbia University. My wife, Ann, and I have lived in Pleasanton, California since 1964. We are proud to note that the next generation in our family is batting 6-for-6 in the teaching league, since our three children and their three spouses are all middle school teachers by profession.