Image: STEP Lead Science Instructor Jeff DrakeJeff Drake is director of the Alaska Summer Research Academy and also the supervisor and manager of the Geochronology Lab - an argon 40/39 rock dating and research laboratory at the UAF Geophysical Institute.

Drake has been interested in education and science since his youth. Over the past 37 years he has worked with kids and young adults in educational activities that included wrestling, chess, Japanese culture, biology, computer science, soccer, the game of Go, physics, chemistry, geology, geochronology and teaching.

While attending the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Drake completed two teaching internships at the Boston Children's Museum; an experience he describes as "life changing" and credits with developing his hands on teaching style and philosophy. He graduated from MIT in 1979 with a BS in Earth and Planetary Science and obtained a secondary teaching certification from the University of Alaska Southeast in 1988.

In 1988-89, Drake taught 7th - 12th grade science in Grayling, Alaska, before accepting employment at the University of Alaska Fairbanks (UAF) the following year. Through his position at UAF, an opportunity arose for Drake to participate in a 4-year program NSF Partners in Science program designed to link K-12 students and teachers with practicing scientists with the goal of increasing the practice of authentic, project based math and science.

The Partners in Science program began Drake's involvement in local elementary school classrooms, and, in particular, his partnership with a 4th - 6th mixed grade classroom at Pearl Creek Elementary. For the past 9 years he has enjoyed his role as a regular part-time guest science teacher to the extent that he continues to volunteer long after the 4-year grant expired.

In addition to his regular duties in the Geochronology Lab, Drake teaches an introductory geology lab course at UAF for undergraduate education majors and lends his vast knowledge of the sciences, enthusiasm, and support to Science Potpourri each spring and the Alaska Summer Research Academy each summer. "Education and outreach are passions of mine," says Drake.

Drake is participating as the Lead Science Instructor in 2008, when the featured topic is Earth Science.