Nadia Valenzuela: the teacher who promotes and develops scientific skills in girls and boys in vulnerable situations

With a herbarium in hand, created by her own father, since she was little she felt attracted to nature, outer space and care for the environment. This is how her desire to teach and bring science closer to people led her to study Basic General Pedagogy.

Within the course of her career, she reaffirmed her passion and decided to specialize in Natural Sciences, a mention that has been teaching and motivating girls and boys in scientific knowledge and development for more than 17 years.

However, the arrival at an establishment where 97% of its students live in a situation of vulnerability, has made her really make her homeland, she mentions, because through her dedication every day in the classroom, it is there “where you achieve changes in children who have deficiencies and needs”, changes that lead to actions that go beyond the classroom and that were recognized with the Global Teacher Prize in 2019.

For this reason, in a new Unforgettable Womenthe weekly special where we highlight the important feats of Chilean women in history and the present, we make visible the impact of not the Natural Sciences teacher, Nadia Valenzuela, who has spent more than 17 years dedicated to educating girls and boys around the sciences, democratizing them, making them more accessible and close.

Going beyond the traditional is the goal of this teacher, who has worked to make science more friendly and the classroom an entertaining space to learn. After a long search for a method that could bring her students closer to science, she discovered challenge-based learning, where she involves her students with a real problem in their locality, to which they must find a solution.

Along the same lines, he has collaborated with organizations such as NASA, which donated to his workplace, the Hermanos Carrera School, instruments to carry out, together with his students, microgravity experiments with various seeds, with the purpose of knowing their response to the alteration of gravity and which are viable in future farms or space crops, becoming one of the two establishments in Chile with this technology.

It has brought outer space closer not only to girls and boys, with whom they have even sent their names by NASA’s space probe to Mars, but also to people with visual disabilities, through a workshop on Inclusive Astronomy, which he is in charge of with his 10-year-old son.

With wool, sequins and pearls they create the textures of the figures, so that people can feel them with their hands, while they are told what they are touching, so they can know what Saturn and its rings are like, the craters of the Moon, among other features.

On the other hand, she has developed activities in pursuit of caring for the environment, in which she has led her students to reforest forests or clean the shores of lakes to prevent invasive aquatic plants from entering, instilling in them the importance of preserving habitats and involving them with the community so that they can be agents of change.

Her concern for each student to be able to know, know and learn about science, despite the fact that many face problems such as dysfunctional families, intra-family violence and where some have even been raised in SOS Children’s Villages, has led her to provide real opportunities and seek among the most hidden the way to be able to teach them and that they become interested in this discipline.

“In all this time I have had many offers to change schools or even universities, but in the youth niche is where I see the changes. That creates challenges for you as a person. I have always seen teaching as what potters do with clay, because my performance depends on whether that work of art that I make with my students reaches a museum and is admired by many”, mentions professor Nadia Valenzuela in a blog. .

In this spirit of making teaching a creative and accessible space, the inspiring work of the teacher has been nationally recognized by “Mujer Impacta” in 2018, recognition that reached the world level a year later with the Teacher Prize 2019, an award considered the “Nobel Prize for Teaching” and awarded to those teachers who carry out transformative actions for their students and communities.

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Nadia Valenzuela: the teacher who promotes and develops scientific skills in girls and boys in vulnerable situations