IDEAS (Inventing, Designing, and Engineering on the Autism Spectrum) is a three-year, $1.2-million NSF-ITEST project. It brings together a collaborative team of researchers, program developers, ASD educators, and students on the spectrum to create an inclusive design and engineering program for middle-school students with and without Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). The after-school program was implemented in 3 New York City public middle schools over the course of the past 2 years.

The idea behind this project is that by engaging in the Engineering Design Process (EDP) around projects based on their interests, students will develop the abilities, awareness, and motivation necessary to pursue higher education and careers in engineering and design.

This project is a collaboration between:

  • The Education Development Center, Inc.’s Center for Children and Technology (EDC/CCT),
  • ASD Nest Support Project at New York University’s Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development (Nest),
  • New York Hall of Science (NYSCI),
  • New York University’s Tandon School of Engineering (NYU SoE),
  • SRI International’s Center for Education and Human Services (SRI).

As a graduate fellow, my responsibilities included:

  • Designing, user-testing, and co-teaching the curriculum in 3 public middle schools;
  • Adapting and designing an Engineering Design Process diagram for the project;
  • Coordinate teacher training and feedback sessions;
  • Maintaining and trouble-shooting 3D printers;
  • Designing facilitator supports, including a new lesson plan format, a 3D printing troubleshooting guide, EDP stickers, and supports for kids with ASD;
  • Presenting our work at the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA) Conference in Atlanta, in April 2018 (see the talk here).

Project NSF award link: