Dr. Raechel Portelli from Michigan State University talks science and career potential with fifth grade students

NEWS RELEASE: Heather Higdon, Director of Communications

INDIAN HILL, OH (November 9, 2020) – She first became interested in science and geography when she was a child after finding a turtle in her pond and watching it grow for a few years.

Brave Virtual Academey introduced Indian Hill 5th grade students to new science horizons (Provided)

That encounter with nature led Raechel Portelli down a path of education that ultimately resulted in her earning multiple advanced degrees and a new title: Dr. Raechel Portelli.

Thursday, October 29 Dr. Portelli, now all grown up and a scientist with Michigan State University, shared this story with the Indian Hill Elementary School fifth-grade students in Amie Kanzeg’s Brave Virtual Academy (BVA) class.


Via Zoom.

Welcome to the new world of virtual education.



“Students were able to get a firsthand look at the research that is being conducted with new technology to solve the real-world problems we face,” explained Kanzeg, who connected her students to this incredible educational opportunity after learning about a program called Skype a Scientist and signing up. “She explained her research using drones and shared how we can use Google Earth to see different ecosystems and change using satellite imagery. This really helped to connect our ecosystem unit we just finished and the regions of the United States unit students are about to begin in social studies to the real world. This also was an opportunity for students to see how ecosystems are so fragile as well as get an opportunity to see how technology, such as drones and satellites, are being used to study areas on a large scale.” 

Dr. Raechel Portelli from Michigan State University talks science with fifth grade Brave Virtual Academy students during the Skype a Scientist presentation October 29, 2020. (Provided)

“I found it very cool and interesting. I would definitely do it again,” said Indian Hill Elementary School BVA student Claire Bergstrom. “She showed us how geographers can basically study anything.”

Kanzeg said Dr. Portelli opened young eyes up to endless possibility; that lesson is priceless.

“It was so valuable for students to hear Dr. Portelli share her educational path from starting out as a business major in college to realizing that her love of geography and science could be a real career,” said Kanzeg. “This lesson was even beyond science – it was personal – about following your passion and pursing your dreams. This virtual connection allowed us to go beyond typical research and really get to know a scientist.”  

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