She wrote for the Daytona Beach Morning Journal as well as the Science Service among many publications. Before joining Science Service, Van de Water’s interests had vacillated between work in science and writing. When she was a teenager, a local newspaper accepted and printed her first news stories.
Despite this early success, her interest in writing was initially “eclipsed by a thirst for scientific work.” She worked for two years in the laboratories of the National Bureau of Standards and then at the National Research Council and United States. Civil Service Commission, where she developed psychological tests and worked on related research projects about personality or intelligence.
One project, for example, involved the creation of a standardized National Intelligence Test for school children. Eventually, Van de Water returned to writing, first through editorial work for an educational magazine and then as a free-lance writer
When she was hired as a full-time staff member at Science Service in November 1929, she found an opportunity to pursue both of her major interests.