David A. Van BaakDavid brings to the Board both his experience as an academic and as a long time Collaborating Physicist, working with TeachSpin in developing many of its instruments. David’s academic career was both begun and completed at Calvin College. To his Calvin B.S. he added a Ph.D. from Harvard University and a postdoc at NIST, where he worked with John Hall, a 2005 Nobel Laureate. Returning to teach at Calvin, he soon found himself intrigued by the advanced lab.

In 2001, while visiting the TeachSpin table at a small conference, David told Jonathan about an experiment he had created for his students, Two-Slit Interference, One Photon at a Time. Within a few months, a collaboration to bring that apparatus to the physics community was underway. Here is David’s description of the rest.

As of the end of August, I have become an Emeritus Professor of Physics of Calvin College, where I spent the years 1980-2014 specializing in upper-level laboratory instruction in physics. After ten years of collaboration with TeachSpin, Inc., working summers and January-terms at the company, I have relocated from Grand Rapids, MI to Buffalo, NY, to take on a second-career full-time position with the company. My interest in building scientific instruments started early. In high school I was a hobbyist in electronics, and in college I indulged very deeply in instrumentation, finding I had as much taste for building apparatus as for using it. During my college teaching career, apparatus development became a priority for me, eclipsing even research, and in my years at Calvin, I had many opportunities to develop new experiments.

In 2001, I learned of the existence of TeachSpin, and its openness to experiments and apparatus developed elsewhere. That marked the beginning of co-productions of Calvin and TeachSpin, with several Calvin-based innovations having since become part of the TeachSpin line. Since 2004, that collaboration became even closer, with my spending 10 to 14 weeks a year in Buffalo working at the company, and also participating with the TeachSpin team at shows and exhibitions. A long-term dream of early retirement from Calvin was realized in the summer of 2014. And now, the gifting of TeachSpin, Inc. to the Foundation makes it possible for me to hope to be of continuing service to the company.