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Featured Teacher: Darren Dressen

Darren Dressen is a teacher at Los Altos High School in Los Altos, California. His classes include honors-level Chemistry and a course on Advanced Science Investigations.

How do you stay up-to-date on the latest science?

In my research class, Science Investigations, each year I have about 20 seniors who work on very high-end projects. Their ideas keep me current with what is happening, since they are interested in new topics. The best part is that I can modify some of their projects to utilize in my chemistry classes. For instance, I had several research students who worked with dye-sensitized solar cells, and now I have a solar cell project every year in my chemistry classroom.

What are you most proud of in your work?

When I see students from my research class have success in undergraduate research labs, I get excited. The whole point of our research class is to give students a head start with their research careers, and we are seeing evidence of that.

What fuels your passion for science and teaching?

I used to be a medicinal chemist so I love teaching chemistry in high school from an organic perspective. I also love it when you see kids “get it” after they’ve been struggling. The best part is when you are tutoring them and you realize about one minute before they do that they are going to figure it out. It is quite a thrill to see that initial understanding in their eyes!

Tell us about a hobby or passion outside of work.

My passion outside of work is baseball. I still play competitively in the summer and I help coach the Los Altos High School baseball team during the spring.

In three words, what would you students say they learned from you?

“Life is challenging” – but that’s a good thing. Otherwise life would be boring.