Know Your Educator

Tracy Nelson, BioEYES Philadelphia

How long have you been with Project BioEYES?

I started in the fall of 2011.

What is your title and role in Project BioEYES?

I am one of the Outreach Educators for BioEYES in Philadelphia. I also do the coordinating of our school schedule.

What's one or two previous positions you held?

I was a 5th grade Math/Science teacher in Philadelphia and I had the pleasure of having BioEYES come to my classroom! That definitely planted a seed in my mind that should I ever decide to leave the classroom, I wanted to try to continue to be a part of this fantastic program. Prior to teaching in the classroom, I worked at several nature centers on both the east and west coasts as a naturalist/educator. I also did a brief stint in a mouse lab at the University of Colorado.

What brought you into the realm of informal science education and nonprofit?

I got started in the field of informal science education and nonprofit by way of nature centers and environmental education. I had a love of the outdoors, which I pursued after college when I went to the western US and did Americorps and then attended IslandWood’s graduate program. Both volunteer and paid positions at several nature centers followed. Ultimately, I came back to the east coast to be close to family and obtain my teaching degree and certification from Penn.

What is your favorite part about working with BioEYES?

Many teachers are forced to cover a lot of topics in the curriculum by year’s end. Their pacing is fast and breadth is wide, but depth gets pushed to the backburner. I get to come in with some depth of knowledge in the area of zebrafish, development, and genetics. Together with the kids, we slow things down a bit and get to really know the animal we’re working with. All students experience some level of success! I also love that I’m able to take some of the burden off of teachers by taking responsibility for material set-up, clean-up, lesson planning, and leading the lab.

Do you prefer one breed of zebrafish over the others?

Whichever breed wants to do just that—breed! We need embryos for the classroom!

When not teaching or working with fish, what are some of your hobbies?

Getting outdoors is definitely at the top of my list. I also enjoy playing the violin, cooking, and spending time with my husband and two sons.

When getting away, where do you like to go?

Some of my favorite spots are Switzerland to visit family, Colorado to visit old friends, and the Jersey shore because of childhood memories.

What is one thing most members of the BioEYES community don't know about you?

I have dual citizenship! I’m a Swiss citizen and an American citizen.

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University of Pennsylvania
Carnegie Institution for Science
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Thomas Jefferson University