By Candace Birkelbach
Killeen Daily Herald
Chilean native Ximena Barbosa has been traveling the world recently and bringing back information to her students about chemistry and its role in their everyday lives.
Barbosa started teaching at Shoemaker High School in 2001 after working seven years to complete a biochemical engineering degree in Chile and conducting research and teaching in Europe.
She has taught many different subjects at Shoemaker including biology, chemistry, environmental science, astronomy and advanced placement chemistry.
This June, Barbosa traveled back to Chile to give biotechnology classes at a few different universities.
In July, she was invited to Italy by the 41st Union Physics and Applied Chemistry Congress. The chemistry congress explains the role of chemistry in health, the environment and culture, Barbosa said.
UPAC is group that works with the America Chemistry Society to give names to newly discovered elements for the periodic table of elements.
Barbosa commented that most people do not realize that the periodic table is constantly changing as elements are added and that science is an ongoing thing.
"Some of the things I'm teaching now, won't be valid in about three years," Barbosa said. "This is the 21st century and knowledge is evolving everyday."
Barbosa said she teaches her students study and organizational skills because of the fact that knowledge is always changing.
From the experiences received during her journeys abroad, Barbosa said she has been able to bring back material about chemistry that applies to the array of uses for chemistry.
After returning from Italy, Barbosa said she was able to show art teachers at Shoemaker about preserving statues and paintings through principles of chemistry.
"Part of my role as a teacher is dissipating the myth that science is too challenging to understand," Barbosa said. "It is part of our everyday lives."
Barbosa described some cultural differences between teaching in the United States versus Chile. She said students in Chile typically have to pay for many of their classroom books and materials.
Vice principal Ted Smith said students flock to Barbosa because of her caring personality and nature.
"Students identify with her because she is not from here and many of our students have moved from different areas also," Smith said. "She makes the students feel welcome and is a great resource for them."
Barbosa said she moved to Killeen because her husband is in the military. She said she enjoys being in this area because the school caters to Ft. Hood.
Barbosa met her husband while she was in Germany researching and teaching chemistry and other subjects. They have been married for 15 years.
Barbosa said students need to keep their goals in mind in order to succeed and to never give up on them.
"I'm an engineer so I love seeing the process of students learning something and having the light bulb go off in their heads," she said.
Contact Candace Birkelbach at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (254) 501-7553