by Tony Moore
Robb Webb ’05 has been teaching conceptual physics, STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) and astrophysics at Pequea Valley High School in Lancaster County, Pa., for 12 years. And he knew he wanted to do it since 10th grade, when he first started to really explore what physics could mean beyond textbooks. Now, beyond the textbooks and beyond the classroom, Webb runs the Pequea Valley Planetarium, a facility that has enhanced his teaching to an extent he never thought possible—and one he uses to inspire his students with astrophysics in new ways.
If all this sounds familiar, you probably remember Webb from when he was featured on Dickinson’s Facebook page last summer. Webb entered his school into the Farmers Insurance Thank America’s Teachers $100,000 Challenge, where the public voted on which schools should win grants. Dickinson posted about it, hoping to shine some light on the good work Webb does while also hoping to gather some votes from other alums. As it turns out, your votes helped his school secure that $100,000, and with it the renovation of the Pequea Valley Planetarium can finally get underway.
“When I accepted the position at Pequea Valley, the planetarium was really just an afterthought and a bonus for teaching astrophysics,” says Webb, also a student council advisor at the school. “Having no experience, but trusting in my liberal-arts education to get me through, I was able to learn from the previous and retired planetarium director how to direct its functions. From there, I fell in love with astronomy and planetariums and their potential for inspiring the next generation of STEM learners.”
And while it’s STEM that drives him, Webb—who met wife Danielle Vigilante-Webb ’03 at an Alpha Phi Omega campus event—looks back on his liberal-arts background as the foundation that lets him reach for the stars. “By learning my physics curriculum through a lens of sustainability and public service, I was able to tailor my lessons to include more relevant questions … to give the students a more global perspective.”
Published March 30, 2017