Informal STEM Education Webinar
STEM Education is Everywhere!
STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) are important fields of study in our modern world. Because new technology and innovation lead to increased job opportunities in these fields, early interest in STEM can lead to a promising and fulfilling future career. But not everyone gets inspired through traditional classroom methods like reading a textbook or watching a lecture, which creates a need for informal STEM Learning!
Many young people discover their interest in STEM outside of the classroom on a trip to a museum, a science center, or even just a walk out in Mother Nature herself. Actively engaging your deaf and hard of hearing student or child in this way can activate a life-long interest in the pursuit of STEM education and professions.
Don’t take it from us, take it from the 4 deaf scientists that joined CSD Learns’ webinar series on Best Practices in STEM Education for parents and educators of deaf and hard of hearing students. The scientists share how exposure to informal and nonformal learning environments propelled them into their respective STEM fields.
Brittany Comegna M.S., is one of the co-founders of Deaf Green Thumbs, a platform to educate people on horticulture.
Scott Cohen – Doctoral student studying science teaching and learning with D/HH students and adults.
Brandon Call is a Science Teacher at Florida School for the Deaf and Blind and a Wildlife explorer & YouTube vlogger.
Jennifer Reilly – Research Operations Manager with the Research Laboratory at Loggerhead Marinelife Center (LMC)
Here are 6 tips on how deaf educators and parents can jumpstart your student’s informal STEM learning
1. Go outside
The world is made up of many complex ecosystems just waiting to be explored. Whether it’s catching bugs, fishing for tadpoles or hiking through the woods in your backyard, Mother Nature is sure to inspire curiosity.
“Growing up, I always loved going to the beach. I became interested in ocean life after observing baby turtles migrating to the ocean.” – Jennifer Reilly
2. Get a pet, or a few pets
Students that learn to take care of animals not only gain skills in responsibility, but also in how to care for another living being. Biology is the foundation of medical practice for both humans and animals, therefore having a pet could potentially save lives.
“I wanted a dog like every other kid, but my parents were allergic. When I was 5, my parents let me pick any other pet, so I got a gecko. 1 turned into 3, then 4, then 10! From there I became interested in all types of animals and was inspired by the great Steve Irwin to explore wildlife.” – Brandon Call
3. Buy a plant…and keep it alive!
Most people would say that you need a green thumb – or a natural affinity for growing plants – to keep them alive. It’s really just science; all you need is water, light and oxygen. Through Photosynthesis, green plants and certain other organisms transform light energy into chemical energy, which keeps them alive.
“Everyone can grow a plant.” – Brittany Comegna
4. Send your student abroad
Life outside of the United States is often different and exciting. Different cultures have ways of living that make us question how and why we – and others – behave the way we do. Unique architecture could inspire students to explore the composition of buildings, exotic fruits could lead them to question the possibility of cross-breeding, or while flying across an ocean, they might ponder the mechanics or physics of how a large metal vehicle can soar through the skies. Travel really makes one think.
5. Enroll your students in a summer or afterschool learning program
Space camp, chemistry camp, marine biology camp…take your pick. There are plenty of seasonal learning opportunities for students across the U.S. Whether you prefer a send-away camp or an after-school program, consider enrolling your students in an interactive, fun and stimulating learning environment where they can explore all that science has to offer.
6. Encourage them to seek knowledge everywhere
There is so much information out there and now, more than ever before. This digital phenomenon has made it easier for students to practice the scientific method wherever they are. Even ordering pizza online can take them through the 6 steps of the process such as: asking yelp for nearby restaurants, reading reviews, ordering, eating the pizza, rating it and leaving a review online.
“Ask Google, research and go down the rabbit hole,” advises Brandon Call.
Did you miss the informal STEM webinar? Click here to access the PowerPoint.
CSD Learns’ STEM series is sponsored by General Motors. Check out the rest of the series which will feature D/HH Professional Women in the STEM Field (February 19th), D/HH Professionals of Color in the STEM Field (March 18th), and Current D/HH STEM/Science Students in Higher Education (April 15th). Save the date!