Elizabeth Barrett-Zahn

Field Editor, Science and Children, the National Science Teaching Association's journal

And - K-5 Science Facilitator, Columbus Elementary School

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The possibilities are limitless once girls' voices are valued and respected in all aspects of life.

What do you do?

As the Field Editor, I play a pivotal role in providing top-notch, quality teaching practices, and experiences for educators. On a daily basis, I am collaborating with educators from PreK to the university level, across the United States and beyond, as we provide best practice teaching and learning through innovative ideas that will excite and expand young learners' minds.

As a Science Facilitator, I work side-by-side teachers and students as we implement learning opportunities structured to develop critical thinking, creativity, collaboration, and communication for all students.

Why did you choose this field?

I come from a family of educators, and at first, I did not see myself joining the family business, but after some time and reflection, I realized that I'm fascinated with how children learn and have a desire to challenge myself every day. 

Joining NSTA as the editor for Science and Children has been a professional dream come true. I've always used Science and Children in my teaching and for professional development, so to be at the helm of this fantastic teacher resource brings me great joy and a sense of responsibility. The impetus to apply for the editor position stems from returning from a Fulbright experience in Vietnam, where I had the opportunity to challenge, expand, and realize my voice. 

Professionally I feel comfortable where I am collaborating with our authors, columnists, and readers as I'm part of a network for promoting science and engineering in elementary classrooms.

What do you look at and think, "I wish younger me would have known this was possible"?

Truth be told I was not a strong reader or an ideal elementary student. School did not "make sense" to me until I was in college. By then, I had missed out on some of the essential foundations. Once I figured out how to apply my fierce desire to learn, how to more effectively organize my thinking, I was off and running, so to speak.

So, for me, I wish I knew it would all work out. 
I wish the little girl with a million ideas, who couldn't sit still would know that she had amazing abilities and talents.

My choice to become an elementary teacher was partly made because I wanted to be there for students who are often overlooked, have their passions squashed, or those who feel not quite there yet academically. The most significant moments in teaching are when you help a student recognize and realize their inner strengths and abilities.

Why do you love working in STEM?

Being part of the STEM conversation is what motivates. My experiences working with children and teachers in Vietnam, Japan, Singapore, and Malaysia have solidified the belief that teaching is teaching and kids are kids, no matter where you are in the world. I challenge my students to think creatively, build perseverance through experiences, and develop their voice and confidence as young STEM citizens.

Best advice for next generation?

STEM opens minds and opens doors. The next generation of girls in STEM must continue to build and demand equity in the workforce as well as having their voices heard in all societal decisions and solutions.

As a 60-year-old woman, I have seen significant shifts in our more equitable society, yet so much more is needed. Girls must demand that these shifts continue and expand. The possibilities are limitless once girls' voices are valued and respected in all aspects of life.

Inspo quote / fun fact / role model

“The true meaning of life is to plant trees, under whose shade you do not expect to sit.” Nelson Henderson

NOMINATE a woman in STEM

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