Dennis Schatz has been honored with the Robert H. Carleton Award from the National Science Teaching Association (NSTA). Considered NSTA’s highest honor, the award recognizes one individual who has made outstanding contributions to, and provided leadership in, science education at the national level and to NSTA in particular.
Dennis has been a champion for informal science education over many decades and says that his mission and dream remain unchanged for 50 years: “to encourage a lifelong, lifewide and lifedeep interest in science.” He continues to have “this wild dream that someday science will be so popular that people will rush home to watch Monday Night Science!”
Dennis is perhaps best known in our community for his leadership at Pacific Science Center in Seattle, Washington, where he served in several roles including Vice President for Education and Senior Vice President for Strategic Programs. Among other achievements, he served as founding director of the Portal to the Public program, an initiative to develop public programs that engage public audiences in understanding the current science research being conducted in our community.
He is currently a Senior Fellow at the Institute for Learning Innovation and Senior Advisor Emeritus at Pacific Science Center. A research solar astronomer by training, Dennis began his informal science education career at the Lawrence Hall of Science. He also served as a program director at the National Science Foundation from 2011 to 2015.
Dennis has been active in ASTC throughout his career, including service on the Program Committee, Professional Development Committee, Education Committee, and the Leading Edge Awards Selection Committee. He was named an ASTC Fellow for lifetime achievement in service to the field and furthering the public’s understanding of science.
Dennis served as NSTA president 2019–2020 and is believed to be the first informal science educator to lead the organization in its more than 75-year history. Dennis was also the founding Field Editor of the journal Connected Science Learning, which highlights links between in-school and out-of-school learning. The journal was jointly launched by NSTA and ASTC.
Dennis has also served as president of the Astronomical Society of the Pacific and the Association of Astronomy Educators and has been on the boards of the Biological Sciences Curriculum Study, Washington State Teachers Association, and a member of the Teacher Advisory Committee of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. He is the author of 25 science books for children.
In 2017, the International Astronomical Union renamed Asteroid 25232 as Asteroid Schatz in recognition of leadership in astronomy and science education. He was honored with the 2014 Robert-Klumpke Award by the Astronomical Society of the Pacific for lifetime achievement in astronomy education and communication to the public and previously received NSTA’s Faraday Science Communicator award in 2009.
NSTA’s Robert H. Carleton Award consists of a $5,000 prize; a formal citation; and a freestanding award. The recipient will also receive an all‐expenses‐paid trip to attend the NSTA National Conference on Science Education.