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As Science Friday’s education director, Ariel Zych finds ways to empower parents and educators to excite students about science, engineering, and math. She can be seen around the office making messes with new experiments, planning teacher trainings, drawing diagrams, curating collections of SciFri media for libraries, or grumbling at the latest education op-ed piece.
Before joining Science Friday in 2013, Ariel taught high school biology, marine science, and environmental science in Washington D.C. Among the many lessons she imparted, she once trained students how to deduce whether a lung obstruction was a tumor or an inhaled pea. (Even now, Ariel is still blown away by how freaking talented and smart her fellow teachers and students were, and misses them every day.) In addition to being a classroom teacher, Ariel has created and facilitated several informal and formal science programs as well as curricular materials for camps, cruises, campuses, zoos, museums, scouts, parents, teachers, and schools.
While completing her master’s degree in entomology at the University of Florida, Ariel once discovered the mechanism of acoustic communication in scentless plant bugs, which was super interesting to her, but not to many other people. Several other memorable scientific pursuits include studying snail gonads, collecting ticks, caring for colonies of social spiders as an undergrad at Cornell, tagging dragonflies, and, more recently, sailing aboard the E/V Nautilus as it explored deep ocean hydrothermal vents.
Ariel constantly misses her home town of Portland, Oregon, but makes up for it by spending weekends eating fun food and walking around outside.