With rapid advancements in technology and new science discoveries being made every day, it is more important than ever that high school students be knowledgeable in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) in order to achieve future success in the world of employment. Unfortunately, students with disabilities are often discouraged from pursuing math and science studies or left out of key educational experiences needed to prepare them for STEM careers.
As part of our goal of expanding educational opportunities for students with disabilities, we’re pleased to tell you about the 2011 National Federation of the Blind Youth Slam—a STEM leadership program for legally blind teens.
One hundred and fifty blind and low vision students from all across the country will be selected to attend this five-day adventure, July 17-23, 2011 at Towson University in Baltimore, Maryland, that will engage, inspire, and encourage the next generation of blind youth to consider careers falsely believed to be impossible for the blind.
While staying on a college campus, students will be mentored by blind role models during fun and challenging activities designed to build confidence and increase science literacy. Participants will also have the opportunity to attend workshops on topics such as leadership, career preparation, and blindness. In addition, students and mentors will take part in a variety of social events throughout the week.
I worked as a volunteer mentor for Youth Slam 2009 and think it was a remarkable experience. All the students learned a great deal and many were inspired to go into the STEM fields. I think one of the most powerful parts of the Youth Slam experience is that students get to know blind adults who are already working in the STEM fields. They learn how to independently perform experiments and other tasks from the folks who are already out there doing them and proving that blind people have much to contribute in these areas.
At Youth Slam teens can learn the science behind building apps for an iPod, use cutting-edge equipment and technology to determine chemical reactions in chemistry labs, build robots, or learn how to use nonvisual techniques to perform a real dissection.
Interested students who will be age fourteen at the time of the program, and are starting high school (ninth grade) in the fall of 2011 or are currently in high school (including those graduating in the spring of 2011) should complete an application online. Students need not have a strong interest in science, technology, engineering, or math (STEM) in order to participate, enjoy, and benefit from this extraordinary experience.
If you are interested in attending the NFB Youth Slam, either as a student participant, or as an adult volunteer, visit www.blindscience.org to complete an online application. Applications are due by March 1, 2011. If you have questions about the NFB Youth Slam, please visit the Web site or contact Mary Jo Hartle at (410) 659-9314, extension 2407, or e-mail YouthSlam@nfb.org.
Bookshare is proud to join the NFB in promoting this innovative program for blind teens. Our library helps to empower students through a continuously growing collection of books in the STEM fields. We have textbooks and other educational materials in these subjects at both the K-12 and college levels. With the combination of our vast library of educational books, and programs like NFB Youth Slam, we’re helping to ensure that the sky is the limit for all students with disabilities.