by Cindy Williams
Student Programming Coordinator
NDVS/SB has collaborated with the North Dakota Space Grant Consortium and their STEM Ambassadors for the last five years. NDSGC has provided hands-on and virtual activities for our students along with providing us with tours of their facilities and equipment on UND’s campus. They have been instrumental in bringing STEM activities to those we serve.
In July, Ken Dockter and I took part in a professional development opportunity hosted by the North Dakota Space Grant Consortium at UND’s Aerospace location on campus. It was presented by the Innovative Differentiated Exploration Activities in Space Science (IDEAS) which includes a team from South Carolina, North Carolina, and the North Dakota Space Grant Consortia. The NASA-in-the-Classroom Educator PD Workshop had a goal of encouraging collaboration between special education educators and a national network of STEM educators and NASA researchers, and our experiences during this workshop will be used to improve inclusive and accessible STEM pedagogy.
Participants in the workshop were from North Dakota, Tennessee, South Carolina, North Carolina, Virginia, West Virginia, and Washington, D.C. Some participants were visually impaired themselves and were able to share personal experiences as well as their professional outlook. At the end, all participants were to share a lesson plan that integrates Universal Design with the other attendees.
During the workshop, we got to participate in hands-on STEM activities and investigations while wearing various simulators that affected some part of our functioning, such as vision, hearing, and loss of tactile mobility. These included:
· UND’s Human Spaceflight Laboratory (Inflatable Lunar/Martian Analog Habitat)
· Space Suit Lab
· Electric Rover
· Spacecraft Simulator’s
· Visit to UND’s Atmospherium
On our last day, the attendees visited our facility at NDVS/SB and learned about our services, programs, assistive technology, and other accommodations for the blind and visually impaired. It was a pleasure to share my knowledge during their time at NDVS/SB.
Partaking in this wonderful learning opportunity was such a blast! I learned various instructional strategies and gained knowledge and resources to make space science activities accessible and inclusive. I also gained various lessons from the numerous participants and resources. I will be able to use resources gained throughout the workshop to strengthen my own teaching in many ways!