Slater grew up in a small town in southeastern Kansas called Chanute. He graduated from Chanute Senior High School in 1985. He completed a BS in Physical Science and a BS Ed in Science Education at Kansas State University in 1989. While at KSU, Slater began to seriously study astronomy, telescopic observing, and public education in the planetarium environment -well, as seriously as a "marching band geek " can be. Slater had some great professors who encouraged him to pursue graduate degrees; this was a really good idea seeing as he wasn't ready to pay back his student loans yet! He completed a Masters in Physics & Astronomy from Clemson University in 1991 and a Ph.D. in Geological Sciences from the University of South Carolina in 1993. His dissertation focused on astronomy education. While at USC, he developed his current research agenda in authentic assessment and earth/space science curriculum development. Slater served as director of the Science Education Center at Pittsburg State University and an assistant professor of physics from 1994-1996 prior to joining the physics faculty at Montana State. He now is a associate professor of astronomy at the University of Arizona.