Minnick Schools, the education division of Lutheran Family Services of Virginia, provides educational services to 149 students with disabilities in 30 school districts across Virginia. As the U.S. Department of Education stated, “Improvements in STEM Education will happen only if underrepresented groups in the STEM fields – including women, people with disabilities, and first-generation Americans – participate.”
The first phase of this partnership used the fischertechnik kits as elements in establishing STEM education curriculum that meets Virginia’s Standards of Learning and speaks to these students’ learning process through hands-on engagement. The feedback from students and teachers has been very positive. For Minnick Director of Education Services, Terri Webber, the ability to differentiate instruction for these students is important:
“These kits have allowed for teachers to differentiate instruction in the areas of science and math. Differentiated instruction is an evidenced based instructional practice used by teachers to meet individual student needs. Teachers use a variety of strategies to differentiate content, process, products, the learning environment, and ongoing assessment. The unique design of the kits allow for strategies so that students, regardless of a disability, can access the curriculum content and Standards of Learning. The academic rigor required for students to pass SOL's End of Course tests is supported through the use of the fischertechnik kits.”
This initiative aspires to bring innovative learning tools, like fischertechnik, to various student groups. We want to provide educators with the resources they need to present material to their students in the best way possible. So far, the ability of the fischertechnik kits to inspire teamwork and social interaction has been wonderful for students who normally struggle in a standard classroom environment. The fact that these students understand more of the concepts presented through the fischertechnik projects brings forth a lot of hope for more STEM education success in the future for students with behavioral issues, learning disabilities, autism and the general student population.
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