CS Ed week is a great time for the CS community to reflect on what we’re doing and where we’re going. One recent CS partnership we’re proud of was with the Department for the Blind and Vision Impaired (DBVI) and the Department for Aging and Rehabilitative Services (DARS) in Virginia.
Through a grant from the Virginia Career Pathways for Individuals with Disabilities, students at the Virginia Robotics and Cyber Academy titled “Dream IT: Do IT” dove into a week’s worth of coding and robotics led by NICERC in Richmond, Virginia. As part of a partnership between DARS and DBVI, funded by the Career Pathways grant, the academy aimed to provide students with disabilities some of the skills and experience in technology as well as the information and confidence to pursue careers in advanced manufacturing or information technologies.
NICERC provided the Cyber Literacy curriculum for the workshop, staff to train a team of DBVI and DARS volunteers, and staff to support training for the students at the workshop. The curriculum was designed for two specific outcomes: to give students with disabilities actionable workplace skills and to provide content exposure that many of their classmates have already experienced at similar cyber camps.
As we prepared for the camp, we designated several hours to complete each task. Upon execution of the camp, we found that the students finished every task 30 minutes to an hour earlier than anticipated. It was truly phenomenal! Even during the assembly of the Boe-Bot (https://nicerc.org/product/boe-bot-kit/), which is a box of parts that requires very fine motor dexterity to assemble, the students finished the build in under two hours. It typically takes a first-time teacher upwards of 2.5 hours to build one! The students accomplished everything ahead of any time frame we could have expected.
Our suggestion for educators and institutions that are interested in engaging this population is this: discard your preconceptions of what you think this population is capable of and raise the bar—they will most certainly rise to the occasion! Check out some shots from the camp below.
For more information on the “Dream IT: Do IT” camp, please find the following links:
NICERC’s curricula is currently implemented in all 50 states and builds K-12 aptitude in STEM, computer science, and cyber curricula. For more information, visit www.nicerc.org.