The Zero Barriers in STEM Education: Accessibility and Inclusion Program
The Smithsonian Science Education Center’s Zero Barriers in STEM Education Accessibility and Inclusion Program is an initiative focused on increasing the prevalence of accessible and inclusive practices in STEM education and school culture for all students along the continuum of human ability. The program convenes teams of educators representing schools, districts, and state education agencies across the US together for an education summit in Washington, D.C. to develop logic models that focus on a problem of practice related to accessible and inclusive STEM programs and school culture within their context for students with disabilities. The program also provides mid-year professional development to educators selected for the program. Please note, the Summit and all associated activities are provided at no cost to attendees. Travel and accommodations are also provided to attendees that reside outside of a 50-mile radius of the event venue.
2023 Summit: Between July 25 - 27, 2023 in Washington, D.C., teams, and their assigned mentor, work together to identify their problem and develop their plan of action to be implemented for 18 months following the summit. Developing a logic model at the summit is the first of many steps that educators take to serve as change agents in their organizations, when participating in this program. As team members build their capacity to be leaders and initiate change in their educational ecosystem, we also want them to understand the importance of engaging all stakeholders in decision-making processes, especially when addressing systemic issues. To that end, teams must also be comprised of a diverse group of individuals that operate within different areas of the organization, that include a teacher or adminstrator who has expertise in working with students with disabilities.
Mid-Year Professional Learning: Following the Summit, selected summit teams and their mentors will be expected to participate in a virtual professional development a few months after they begin implementing their logic models. This series of workshops will focus on accessibility and other topics relevant to expanding STEM opportunities for students with disabilities.
For questions, contact: Sherrell Williams, WilliamsSM2@si.edu
Ideal Team Composition Who might serve on a leadership team?
- Decision-makers (school or district admin.)
- In-service teacher
- Instructional coach
- Special Education Teachers
- Parent or community partner
The goals of the Summit are to provide selected teams an opportunity to:
- Develop a logic model that addresses a problem of practice in accessible and inclusive STEM teaching, programming, and culture in their organization. The goal is to ensure that students with disabilities see STEM as accessible to them, and that all students, no matter where they fall along the continuum of human ability, understand how to use Universal Design practices when engineering solutions to problems.
- Collaborate with a body of peers to exchange knowledge and initiate changes that promote accessibility in STEM education for all students with disabilities in their school communities.
- Engage with a network of STEM educators who are interested in increasing awareness and developing sustainable solutions to address accessibility concerns in STEM education.
As a result of attending the Summit participants will also:
- Gain an understanding of the state of accessibility in education across the nation.
- Develop leadership skills and partnerships with other educators.
- Learn about existing organizations and communities that support educators to provide equitable STEM learning opportunities.
This program is made possible through generous funding from General Motors.