Jeff Bennett

Scientist, Educator, Author, Speaker

Big Kid Science

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, including the American Institute of Physics Science Communication Award and the Klopsteg Education Awardfrom the American Association of Physics Teachers.

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 2 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 seven award-winning science books: Max Goes to the MoonMax Goes to MarsMax Goes to JupiterMax Goes to the Space StationThe Wizard Who Saved the WorldI, Humanity, and Totality! An Eclipse Guide in Rhyme and Science. All seven books have been selected for the Story Time From Space program, in which astronauts read books aloud from the International Space Station, with the videos posted freely for anyone to watch. (In fact, five of those books were the first five children’s books ever launched into space.) 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 eight books launched into space.

For middle school, Dr. Bennett has written a complete, free, digital textbook for middle school Earth and Space Science (also appropriate to many high school courses), posted at

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 worked to bridge the cultural divide between education and science; in the words of the then-Director of NASA Astrophysics (Charlie Pellerin), “Jeff’s most important and lasting accomplishment was in creating cultural change. NASA had always looked at science and education as separate endeavors… Jeff ultimately broke down this wall of separation…” Also while at NASA, 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 later flew 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 30,000 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 to approximately 100,000 students at more than 200 K-12 schools. Through his company, Big Kid Science, he is a leading supporter of Story Time From Space and of the Voyage National Program, and he led and personally funded creation of the free app Totality by Big Kid Science (which he has now donated to the American Astronomical Society), designed to help people learn about and plan for upcoming total solar eclipses. He is also actively engaged in outreach through public speaking, including a “relativity tour” that took him to 25 cities in 2015, an in-progress “global warming tour“, and a “free visit program” in which he often visits communities at his own expense to promote STEM education and outreach. When not working, he enjoys hiking, participating in masters swimming, and the daily adventures of life with his wife Lisa, his adult children Grant and Brooke, and the family dogs.