The National Federation of the Blind (NFB), in partnership with museums and science centers, facilitated three regional science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) programs. NFB STEM2U is an extension of the NFB’s National Center for Blind Youth in Science initiative in local communities. NFB STEM2U expands on the exciting and innovative work conducted by the National Federation of the Blind in the area of informal STEM education through previous National Center for Blind Youth in Science programs such as the NFB Youth Slam, NFB Project Innovation, and NFB STEM-X.
NFB STEM2U brought accessible STEM learning opportunities to ninety blind and low-vision children in elementary and high school from across the United States. Furthermore, NFB STEM2U offered learning opportunities to parents of blind children and educators working with blind students.
NFB STEM2U participants had the opportunity to engage in accessible STEM learning at some of the country’s largest museums and science centers. Students will also had the opportunity to provide feedback to staff and educators about how the museum could better meet their nonvisual learning needs. In this way, participants acted as both learners and teachers. In the NFB STEM2U learning community, there is an understanding that no one person has all of the answers, but together we can overcome any barrier that we may encounter.
Each of the three regional programs served twenty blind elementary school students (the juniors) and ten blind high school students (the apprentices). All students engaged in hands-on, inquiry-based STEM learning. Moreover, the students had the occasion to learn with and from blind adult role models about how to succeed in the STEM classroom and in every-day life. Apprentices (the older students) also had the chance to develop and refine their leadership and mentoring skills as they give back through their work with the juniors (the younger students) throughout the program.
Blind and low-vision students who are looking for more opportunities to learn about STEM, while having fun with their peers from across the country, should apply to attend NFB STEM2U.
- NFB STEM2U Minneapolis was held May 19-21, 2016 at the Science Museum of Minnesota.
- NFB STEM2U San Francisco was held March 3-5, 2016 at the Exploratorium.
- NFB STEM2U Phoenix* was held November 5-7, 2015 at the Arizona Science Center.
- NFB STEM2U Leadership Academy** was held October 2-4, 2015 at the National Federation of the Blind Jernigan Institute.
Each program began on a Thursday evening and ran through Saturday evening. Friday and Saturday’s learning activities at each regional program took place both on and off of the partner museum campus.
*In addition to serving thirty blind and low-vision youth, NFB STEM2U Phoenix provided a cohort of ten teachers with hands-on, professional development on STEM accessibility, technology, Braille, and how to foster a blind student’s development of a positive conception of blindness and him/herself.
**A weekend retreat held at the NFB Jernigan Institute in Baltimore, Maryland, for the ten apprentices chosen to attend each of the three regional NFB STEM2U programs. At the NFB STEM2U Leadership Academy, high school students learned how to be positive role models and leaders for the younger students who would attend their regional NFB STEM2U program later in the year.
Further Information for Prospective Juniors (elementary school-aged students)
Twenty elementary school students will be selected from the pool of applicants to attend each of the three regional programs (a total of sixty students). The application will ask each student to rank the three regional programs from first to third based on personal preference (i.e., location, dates, etc.).
To be eligible to apply for the NFB STEM2U program as a junior, students must:
- Be in grades 3-6 during the school year
- Be blind or have low-vision
- Be a United States resident
- Be accompanied by a parent or guardian
In addition to participating in some activities with their children, parents and guardians who accompany junior participants, will attend workshops and activities specifically designed to equip parents with the tools and skills that they need to help their children become successful adults.
Further Information for Prospective Apprentices (high school-aged students)
Ten high school students will be selected from the pool of applicants to attend each of the three regional programs (a total of thirty students). The application will ask each student to rank the three regional programs from first to third based on personal preference (i.e., location, dates, etc.).
To be eligible to apply for the NFB STEM2U program as an apprentice, students must:
- Be in grades 9-12 during the school year
- Be blind or have low vision
- Be a United States resident
- Be available to attend the entire NFB STEM2U Leadership Academy in Baltimore, Maryland
To prepare apprentice participants for their role as mentors and leaders for the juniors in attendance at the NFB STEM2U regional programs, apprentices will attend a weekend leadership academy at the NFB Jernigan Institute in Baltimore, Maryland. At this retreat, apprentices will have the opportunity to learn from leaders in the National Federation of the Blind. All thirty apprentices (ten from each of the three regional programs) who will attend the NFB STEM2U programs will be in attendance at the NFB STEM2U Leadership Academy, creating an excellent opportunity for the blind high school students to network and build relationships with their peers from all over the country.
Further Information for Prospective Teacher Participants
Ten teachers will be selected from the pool of applicants to participate in the NFB STEM2U teacher cohort.
To be eligible to apply to participate in the NFB STEM2U teacher cohort, an applicant must:
- Be a practicing teacher
- Be either a teacher of the blind or a STEM teacher
- Be available for the entire NFB STEM2U program
Travel and Lodging Details
STEM2U Regional Programs
Junior and guardian pairs: Lodging for Thursday and Friday evenings will be provided by the NFB Jernigan Institute at a local hotel or other lodging facility for participants who live more than forty miles from the program. Travel stipends will be available to support the attendance of participants; the value of the stipend will be based on need and cost incurred for travel.
Apprentices: Lodging for Thursday, Friday, and Saturday evenings will be provided by the NFB Jernigan Institute at a local hotel or other lodging facility. The NFB Jernigan Institute will book travel to and from the airport or train station closest to the participant’s home unless the participant lives within driving distance of the program site.
Teachers: Lodging for Thursday and Friday evenings will be provided by the NFB Jernigan Institute at a local hotel or other lodging facility for participants who live more than forty miles from the program. Travel stipends will be available to support the attendance of participants; the value of the stipend will be based on need and cost incurred for travel.
NFB STEM2U Leadership Academy
- Apprentices: Lodging will be provided at the NFB Jernigan Institute at no additional cost to the participant. The NFB Jernigan Institute will book travel to and from the airport or train station closest to the participant’s home unless the participant lives within driving distance of the program site.
If you have questions or require additional information, please contact:
NCBYS Project Director
National Federation of the Blind
410-659-9314 ext. 2418
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This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. 1322855.
Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.