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  • Elizabeth Barrett-Zahn

Global Connections

In our ever-increasingly connected world, accessible through the convenience of travel and extensive improvements in digital communication, we routinely interact with people across the globe in business ventures, global collaborations, entertainment, and as teams of scientists and engineers. In this past year, we’ve come to realize just how interconnected people are from every corner of the globe as we’ve battled the COVID-19 pandemic.

I’m excited about this theme for Science and Children focusing on Global Connections because of my educational experiences developing international relationships as a Fulbright Alum, international scholar, and guest speaker traveling to Malaysia, Singapore, Japan, Vietnam, and Taiwan. I’ve come to incorporate what the late Senator J. William Fulbright stated about global experiences—“We must try to expand the boundaries of human wisdom, empathy, and perceptions, and there is no way of doing that except through education.” Learning together, sharing perspectives, and collaborating with educators across the United States and in other countries truly stretches ones’ perceptions of the world and solidifies our commonalities and worldwide struggles. With each opportunity to meet and work with educators in other countries, I’ve increased my pool of colleagues and been enriched by friendships.

When teachers focus on building global perspectives, students’ learning is enriched. Despite pandemic-related struggles, these students engaged in science and engineering practices and reinforced 21st-century skills of collaboration, communication, creativity, and critical thinking. Just as promoting hands-on experiences in STEM builds more robust, long-lasting connections in science and engineering, expanding our classrooms to include stories, experiences, and collaborations with others across the globe builds responsible, empathetic global citizens.

What better time than now to begin to provide opportunities for our students to engage in authentic, collaborative global projects. Young learners can deepen their content knowledge as they cultivate empathy, acknowledge diverse perspectives, and develop a sense of kinship with others.

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