UNIMPEDED STEM

STEM and BBC micro:bit coding training was given to the teachers and students of the Gelişim Special Education and Rehabilitation Center in Ankara, Turkey on 17 March – 25 April 2021. It was aimed for teachers to gain knowledge and awareness about STEM and to enable students to experience a more effective learning process with STEM applications. 6 different workshops of 45 minutes each were held. Students with the diagnosis of Specific Learning Disability, Mental Retardation, Hearing Impairment constituted the target group of the study. Female students’ participation was prioritized over male students’ participation. At the end of the event, 25 female students, 15 male students, a total of 40 students and 9 teachers were reached. If they wished to, students and teachers filled in the participation forms before attending the workshops. 6-week workshops were held with children between the ages of 6-14 and their teachers.

We had two goals in UNIMPEDED STEM. First one; It was about giving STEM and Coding training to Special Education and Rehabilitation Center Teachers, and making them aware of them and applying them in their lessons. Our second goal was to create equality of opportunity in education and provide education to disabled individuals with STEM and Coding. We designed an environment where students and teachers can learn while they enjoy themselves and have fun. Days ago, we announced our event on various platforms such as social media and posters. With our activity, children got acquainted with different peer groups. At the end of the activity, the students’ views were received and they stated that they could learn more easily with STEM applications.

Teacher workshops were held with teachers who wanted to participate. Groups were created regardless of age and pre-learning conditions. In this way, it was ensured that the teachers socialized and communicated with their colleagues. Every teacher who participated was asked to do STEM applications in their lessons and they did.

For example, a teacher who was teaching the Letter E, together with the student, first tried to print the letter E with play dough. They made an object that starts with the letter E using Play Dough and made an application that shows the letter E with the BBC micro: bit.

Student workshops, on the other hand, were organized individually or in groups, taking into account their special circumstances. Workshops were planned according to the learning level of each student.

A Coding class was created in the school and computers and micro:bits were placed in this class. It was aimed for each student to learn by doing. BBC micro: bit microcomputer was introduced in the workshops. With the BBC micro: bit, the students’ awareness was raised using applications ranging from fundamental to difficult. LEDs on the BBC micro: bit microcomputer were introduced and exercises such as name printing, letter printing, symbol creation, number recognition, number printing and coding were carried out with LEDs. Exercises that print names, create symbols, and add and subtract when the button is pressed with the buttons were completed. The sensors on the card were shown, accelerometer sensor was introduced and explained along with the exercises that can be applied. The concepts of north, south, east and west were shown with the compass sensor. These practices were adapted to their lessons according to their individual development.

For a student who has difficulty learning the number 2, the number 2 was written on the LEDs with BBC micro: bit, as well as the practice of counting objects and writing the number.

Arrows were drawn using Cartons for students who had difficulty in directions, directions were introduced, and concepts of North, South, East, West were demonstrated with micro: bit.

In our project, we aimed for every child to be able to encounter STEM regardless of their disability. We have observed that with the STEM teaching approach, their learning is easier and permanent. Our students who participated were from different age groups and with different disabilities. Students were very eager to learn, as they could apply the topics they learned in different settings and see the result. At the end of the workshop, the opinions of the students and parents who participated were received. Each participating student and their parents were very happy and stated that they wanted such activities to be carried out continuously and to be widespread.

All the photos belong to the Author – Attribution CC-BY

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