The National Science Foundation reports that people with disabilities are underrepresented in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) careers and face a higher rate of unemployment. NOAA Science Camp offsite link partnered with the University of Washington’s Disabilities, Opportunities, Internetworking and Technology (DO-IT) program offsite link, which is working to mitigate these barriers by advancing the success of people with disabilities in education, research, and careers.
NOAA Science Camp, which normally offers hands-on science-learning opportunities for middle and high school students, expanded by offering a two-week virtual marine science workshop for nine DO-IT students. This group included rising high school seniors, high school graduates, and incoming college freshmen.
The workshop focused on the marine food web in the Pacific Northwest and featured presentations by scientists from NOAA and Washington Sea Grant offsite link. Seven interactive presentations were hosted online and covered topics including food web interactions, plankton, and fish diversity. Students created their own public service announcements that highlighted human impacts on the marine ecosystem. Sessions also included college readiness lessons in scientific writing and reading, and “soft skills” like problem-solving and collaboration. Students participated in a virtual rocky intertidal beach walk in real time and virtually toured a NOAA Fisheries marine mammal research laboratory.
One student participant commented, “DO-IT and NOAA still managed to keep everyone captivated, even without the joys of experiencing the NOAA Camp in person.” Students presented their final public service announcements during a closing ceremony. NOAA Science Camp plans to continue this workshop next year with a new group of DO-IT students who are eager to learn about their possibilities for the future.