Breaking News
More () »

STEM bus comes to Sumter middle school to teach students in an accessible way

Alice Drive Middle students built robots and robotics at the Alabama Institute of Deaf and Blind's STEM bus, while instructors teach using sign language.

SUMTER, S.C. — Students at Alice Drive Middle in Sumter experienced an accessible way to explore science, technology, engineering and math at the Alabama Institute for Deaf and Blind's STEM bus.

Director for NTID Regional STEM Center at the Institute Jason Roop has worked in STEM for his whole career. Roop is deaf himself, and he tells me the opportunity to explore STEM can be particularly helpful for hearing-impaired students.

"STEM is a very visual field, especially for deaf and hard of hearing individuals who rely on that visual nature, it includes a lot of hands on activities," he signed as Mary Beth Grayson interpreted. "The deaf population tends to thrive well on that type of work, so STEM skills that we are preparing these students to do is accessible to them and it provides them with the opportunity for future employment in the STEM field."

RELATED: These SC robotics students treat coding as second, third languages

The Institute serves 12 southeastern states, including South Carolina.

"Having workshops that promote the interest and exposure of different content with STEM and getting students ready for that type of work, developing their soft skills, all of that is included in what we do," Roop detailed.

Roop arrived in style. The institute brought a STEM bus, which students used to build computers and robotics. Executive Director of Student Support Services for Sumter School District Veronne Davis says the day was about more than just building technology.

"This program offers role models for them to see in action and then it gives them that opportunity to desire and achieve more in the areas of STEM," she explained. "It’s tapped into their critical thinking skills and it also provides additional resources and support to help them move beyond the years of being in Sumter School District."

Cara Smithwick with the nonprofit Beginnings SC helped bring the bus to Sumter. Smithwick says opportunities like this are important.

RELATED: New scores from Department of Education show high schoolers failing multiple subjects on End of Course Tests

"It’s so important for the younger kids to know they have someone to look up to and what the future is possible," Smithwick said. "They can see that A) there’s deaf students at this school and B) they can do anything that they possibly could just like the other kids, so it’s another form of disability awareness 'cuz most people don’t even think about kids that are deaf and hard of hearing."

Roop said this exposure is important, particularly at a young age.

"I think the important part is really showing that deaf and hard of hearing students and people can do anything just as well as any able-bodied person, so being able to expose students at that age I think is very critical," Roop signed.

In the spring, Sumter School District will be getting a STEM bus of its own for students to explore.

Paid Advertisement

Before You Leave, Check This Out