Mr W's email

Although I was born in southern California (don't tell anyone-- shhhhh!) my family moved to Honolulu, Hawaii just before I started 3rd grade.
Hawaii was a great place to be outside all year 'round and I surfed, body surfed and snorkeled, although I spent most of my time competing in swimming.

I swam all through middle school, high school and college and was fortunate to land a scholarship at UPS where I majored in both Physics & European History, minored in math and still managed to be named an NCAA Div II All-American in swimming (twice).

My first job out of college was a "Telescope Operator" at the Mauna Kea Observatory at almost 14,000 ft on the "Big Island" of Hawaii.  My shift was 6:00 PM until 5:30 AM. (It took a lot of getting used to eating "lunch" at midnight).

Check out this "shadow on the sky" that the mountain sometimes casts at sunrise & sunset.

Also, see this 'fire and ice' photo I snapped of the full moon reflecting off the snow on the summit with the Kilauea Volcano erupting in the distance.

I worked as a database consultant for 15 years in my own company (Blue Shift Consulting, LLC) before finally giving in to a long time desire to teach.  I went back to school at UW/Tacoma for my masters and I am absolutely thrilled to be teaching at Gig Harbor HS.

I was selected to attend an astrobiology seminar at the University of Hawaii in the summer of 2009 & 2010.


National Board Certified Teacher in Earth Sciences

→ WA State Certified Teacher in all Secondary Sciences

→ CTE (Career & Technical Education) Certified in:

   * Environmental Science

   * STEM Learning (including computer science)

   * Work site Learning Coordinator


Did You Know...

That Brian May (he's the guitarist for the rock group Queen who wrote "We Will Rock You") earned his PhD in Astrophysics in 2008 when he was 61?

Click here to read about his thesis:"Radial Velocities in the Zodiacal Dust Cloud"

He also wrote my favorite song called '39.  If you look closely, you'll see it's all about Einstein and relativity and faster than light travel (really!)


My Philosophy of Teaching (including grading policies)


Mount Osorno, Chile 2005

I enjoy travel a great deal, and so far I've visited the Scottish Highlands (check out the Ring of Brodgar), New Zealand (the original bungy jump and yes, I did), Greece (The eruption that destroyed much of the island of Santorini is most likely the basis for the Atlantis myth. The central caldera/lagoon is one of the most beautiful places I've ever seen), Namibia (this is a very cool backpacker's lodge), Botswana (The amazing Okavango Delta-- ask me about the time my guide and I were charged by an elephant on foot (really), Zimbabwe (I liked the Eastern Highlands of Zimbabwe so much that when I came home, I named my new cat Mutare-- unfortunately the country is in a very bad way now (ask your Social Studies teacher about that!!)), Zambia (check out the spectacular Victoria Falls! I had a truly amazing rafting experience that started right at the base of the falls) , Chile (Punta Arenas is right at the tip of South America-- it is also a jumping-off point for many Antarctic Expeditions) and the Falkland Islands are just about as far away as you can get from anywhere.  The husband and wife who owned the hotel I stayed at took me to visit a sheep ranch, and I spent the day helping while they sheered the sheep.  They insisted that I give it a try, but I'm afraid I wasn't very good at it and mostly I pushed a broom around.)

I love to look at a map and just kind of wonder what is out there.  My rule is that I don't carry anything more than I can fit in a backpack that will fit in the overhead compartment on the plane.  It is such an incredible feeling to be in a part of the world that is waayyyyy different from home.  I can't recommend travel highly enough.

A friend of mine recommended this really AWESOME dinosaur museum in Wyoming... so a week later I hopped in my car and drove over 2100 miles! I signed up for the Dino Dig for a Day and spent the day digging for dinosaur bones and working in the dino lab (below) separating out a dino bone from the surrounding rock.

A couple of summers ago (2019) I figured it was time to see MUCH MORE of the U.S. --- so I flew to Charleston, SC and spent several weeks working my way back west. I didn't have much of an itinerary except that I kinda wanted to see New Orleans 'cept that a Hurricane blew in and ended up chasing me north.

I really wanted to see the BATS in Austin (1.5 million of them come out for dinner every night from their roosting place under the Congress Avenue Bridge in downtown) AND to spend some time on a long distance train, so I headed south. The train was very definitely NOT easy travel but I met some amazing people and saw some incredible country so it was well worth it.

I rested up with friends in Huntington Beach (near LA) and then flew home the next day.

The summer of 2017 brought me to about 30 miles outside of Fossil, Oregon to see THIS (and yes, it truly was a chance of a lifetime). The air suddenly got colder, there were odd bits of cool breezes suddenly floating by, the planet Jupiter became visible, and of course there was THE VIEW:


Here's what former student Emma said about her experiences watching the eclipse down in Oregon:

"...And like a light switch the moon was totally covering the sun and it was honestly the most amazing thing I have ever seen."

I signed on with the FINE FOLKS of the Mt St Helens Institute in 2016 and took a hike INSIDE the belly of the beast. To say it was awesome is quite the understatement (they only let 50 or so people in per year):

I took a group of students to the Presidential Inauguration in January, 2012 on a trip sponsored by the non-partisan CLOSE UP organization... it was absolutely OUTSTANDING (although it was VERY COLD)

... but that was no worries, 'cause we had over 700,000 of our closest friends to keep us warm!