DRobotZ: Encouraging High School Deaf and Hard of Hearing (DHH) Students to Pick STEM Computing Pathways (AccessComputing News - January 2013)

Mark Wambach, AccessComputing Partner

Summer 2012 brought a new learning opportunity for DHH students. For the first time, thanks to a subcontract from AccessComputing, the National Technical Institute for the Deaf (NTID) at the Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) hosted a special two-week computing summer camp for DHH students called DRobotZ. The camp offered students a host of opportunities—including working with robots—all in the interest of persuading qualified DHH students to pick a path through high school that would lead them to a computing major in college.

DRobotZ's goal is to encourage early high school students who are DHH and have an interest in and aptitude for computing and STEM. Participants meet deaf professionals, researchers, and college students. Students can learn about programs and careers in computing, and they can use science, mathematics, programming, and teamwork to solve problems. The camp was designed and managed by Mark Wambach. Karen Beiter served as the instructor.

The nine students who participated were very busy during their two-week stay. By day three, they were working with their robots, and by the end of the first week, students were having their robots carry out simple instructions and applying mathematics to their movements, controlling turns, measuring distances, calculating speed and acceleration, and testing friction.

Since camp ended, participants continue to stay involved; some have started a Facebook group, others have talked about taking honors classes, and one individual has pursued robotics projects independently using online materials provided by DRobotZ's director. For more on DRobotZ, see www.ntid.rit.edu/camps/drobotz.