Access Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) in Idaho
The goal of Access STEM in Idaho is to extend the efforts put forth by the Northwest Alliance University of Washington's Disabilities, Opportunities, Internetworking, and Technology (DO-IT) project to increase the representation of people with disabilities in STEM academic programs and careers through the following objectives: (a) Recruit high school and college students with disabilities into STEM career paths;(b) Train and Retain students by establishing a mentoring program at the College of Southern Idaho to support and encourage students with disabilities to enroll in STEM careers as they transition from high school to post secondary education; (c) Recruit and Train STEM faculty at the College of Southern Idaho, to increase the number of individuals with disabilities in their STEM programs; (d) Train secondary educators to support and encourage the inclusion of students with disabilities in high school level STEM courses, and to assist with the facilitation successful transition from high school to college. People with disabilities are underrepresented in STEM careers. Further, access to postsecondary education and to the accommodations that facilitate success in college level classes and especially in STEM fields are problematic for youth with disabilities. The lack of access extremely limits the career prospects for individuals with disabilities. The proposed project will utilize research-based curriculum and other resources developed by the Northwest Alliance DO-IT program to effectively change post-secondary outcomes for students with disabilities. Specifically, transition services that guide students toward STEM careers will dramatically increase the number of students in Idaho obtaining post-secondary educations in STEM fields. The implementation of a training program that fosters accessible facilities, activities, and technologies will greatly improve students' abilities to fully participate in STEM programs. The building blocks established in Idaho through the Idaho Interagency Council on Secondary Transition are fully incorporated into the design of the proposed project.Each component of the project will be evaluated in relation to the states transition plan which will create a mechanism for sustainability of project activities. In effect, this project lays the foundation for transition services to postsecondary education for all students with disabilities in Idaho. As previously mentioned, the service blue print that will be evaluated through this project will provide other states with an effective transition model. With Idaho's rural infrastructure, Access STEM in Idaho, along with its many collaborators, will be able to replicate the training and mentoring program in other regions of the state. In collaboration with the Northwest Alliance and the use of their curriculum and training materials, videos, and a searchable Knowledge Base accessed through their project website, a system of statewide support can be established. At the completion of year one, the Access STEM in Idaho will apply for continuation of NSF funds to support a statewide program. Access STEM in Idaho will work with the Northwest Alliance to create and update new materials and resources and project outcomes will add to the Northwest Alliance's objectives to enhance the scientific and technological understanding nationwide.