Neurodiversity in STEM Education - Teaching Heliophysics to Students on the Autism Spectrum
One of over 50 projects funded by NASA's Science Activation program, NASA’s Neurodiversity Network (N3) is an SSU-led project whose objective is to provide a pathway to STEM employment and participation for neurodiverse learners. Through this program, we are creating a heliophysics curriculum for neurodiverse Bay Area high school students focusing on those on the autism spectrum. In this project, students will learn through different modalities such as PowerPoints, worksheet-based activities, and through direct observations of the Sun by building their own devices to record Solar data. They will then provide feedback to help ensure that the lessons meet their needs. This process will create a resource for teaching students on the autism spectrum that meets California high school standards while also providing authentic NASA experiences for STEM learners.
This project has become a passion project by allowing me to combine my different interests in an impactful way. In high school, I had wanted to be a special education teacher but developed an enthusiasm for astronomy. Until this project, I had no experience or knowledge of how to tie those two things together. I am proud to be part of this community that truly cares about the resources available for teaching and providing hands-on engineering experiences for all types of minds. I look forward to seeing how far and wide this project will spread across the country after being introduced to the local high schools.
After graduation, I plan to join the workforce doing something related to STEM education, astronomy outreach, or a more engineering-based job. I am currently looking for and applying to jobs in the Southwest and Hawaii. After working for a few years, I will apply to Ph.D. programs in Astronomy Education Research.