Dr. Sadler first earned a B.S. in Physics from MIT in 1973 while co-authoring a textbook on introductory calculus. He then taught middle school science, engineering, and mathematics for several years before earning a doctorate in education from Harvard in 1992 with a dissertation entitled “The Initial Knowledge State of High School Astronomy Students.”
Dr. Sadler has taught Harvard’s courses for students preparing to be science teachers and for the next generation of science professors. As F.W. Wright Senior Lecturer in Astronomy, he carries on Harvard’s oldest undergraduate course in science, Celestial Navigation. He directs the CfA’s Science Education Department, one of the largest such research groups in science. He serves on editorial boards for several research journals and advisory boards for the American Educational Research Association and the American Astronomical Society.
Dr. Sadler’s research program includes assessment of students' scientific misconceptions and how they change as a result of instruction, the development of computer technologies that allow youngsters to engage in research, curriculum development for the physical sciences, the transition to college of students who wish to purse science-related careers, and models for enhancement of the skills of experienced teachers. He was the executive producer of A Private Universe, an award-winning video on student conceptions in science. In 1999, Dr. Sadler won the Journal of Research in Science Teaching Award for work on assessing student understanding in science, given yearly for “the most significant contribution to science education research.” He won the Astronomical Society of the Pacific’s Brennan Prize for contributions to astronomy teaching in 2002. He has been awarded the Computers in Physics Prize by the American Institute of Physics three times. Dr. Sadler was awarded the 2010 American Astronomical Society Education Prize. This award recognizes outstanding contributions to the education of the public, students and/or the next generation of professional astronomers. He is the originator of the MicroObservatory network of robotic telescopes that has taken over 600,000 pictures for pre-college students’ projects. He is the inventor of the Starlab Portable Planetarium and many other devices used for the teaching of astronomy, worldwide. Materials and curricula developed by Dr. Sadler are used by an estimated fifteen million students every year.