Watson Chronicle


Programs for P-12 Students

WCE’s STEM LC, Special Ed Students Develop STEM Kits for Area Schools

Wednesday, May 05, 2021

For the past five years, WCE’s STEM Learning Cooperative and Center for Assistive Technology have offered STEM events for students as part of the North Carolina Science Festival. The STEM team works to ensure programs are accessible for children with disabilities as well as their typically developing peers. This year, with in-person events limited due to COVID-19, STEM LC and CAT partnered to create adapted STEM kits to share with area schools.

Students enrolled in Watson’s Special Education program and WCE’s Watson Student Leaders provided support for the 2021 Equitable STEM program. Together, faculty, staff and students assembled and delivered 2,195 STEM kits to K-8 schools in 12 counties in April. Amy Moody, professor of special education and director of the Center for Assistive Technology, coordinated the project.

Students enrolled in Moody’s Special Education classes SEDL 300 and SEDL 301 completed a field experience in special education classrooms virtually this spring. As an applied learning project, the students were tasked with adapting STEM kits found through various websites to include picture directions and extension activities to help their students develop math, reading and science knowledge.  

“Many students with disabilities and children with poor reading skills can benefit from visual supports and hands-on activities,” Moody said. “There were 10 kits in total. The activities included UV beads, hang gliders, Skittles art, fishing with magnets, bird feeders, robot hands, marshmallow towers, seashell measurements, core sampling and DNA Helix kits. The students added adapted picture directions for each kit and included extension activities for our target population.”

The North Carolina Science Festival and an applied learning grant through the Watson College of Education provided funding for the initial project which involved the creation of 600 kits. STEM LC and CAT provided additional funding to extend the STEM learning opportunity to partners in STEM SENC counties.

“This project offered WCE students real-life experience adapting science lessons for children with disabilities,” Moody said. “It also allowed WSL to shine by offering their valuable time to assist in preparing the kits for dissemination. Finally, it allowed the STEM LC, Junior Seahawks, and CAT the opportunity to collaborate and work as a team to improve educational outcomes for students from low-income schools and those diagnosed with disabilities, who often lack STEM opportunities.”

Heddy Clark, Michelle Hafey, Angie Reid-Griffin and Gianna Geiss partnered with Moody on the project. Clark is director of UNCW’s STEM Learning Cooperative and interim director of CESTEM, Hafey is a program associate in WCE’s Center for Education in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics, Reid-Griffin is a professor of secondary science and coordinator of UNCW’s Junior Seahawk Academy, and Geiss is an administrative associate for the STEM LC and CESTEM.

“A special thanks to the NC Science Festival for their continued support to deliver events that support STEM learning,” Moody said. “This project fits our mission to promote diversity and equity in the field of STEM. The students get to engage in hands-on and fun activities to engage their minds while allowing us to generate ideas as a group.”