UNT to host STEM camps for students with disabilities

The Texas Workforce Commission has awarded the UNT Workplace Inclusion and Sustainable Employment (UNT WISE), in conjunction with the UNT College of Engineering, $88,667 to offer the Explore STEM! Summer Program, a variety of summer camps for students ages 14-22 with disabilities.

“Our goal is to provide students with disabilities exposure to STEM fields through interactive, hands-on programming. We hope this piques interest in various STEM careers, which are in-demand and offer great opportunities,” said Lucy Gafford, director of UNT WISE, which is housed in the UNT College of Health and Public Service Department of Rehabilitation and Health Services.

Participants must apply through their local Texas Workforce Commission Vocational Rehabilitation Services division, to be considered for the program. Camps are as follows:

Explore STEM! Computer Engineering

Instructor: Dr. Robin Pottathuparambil, senior lecturer of computer science and engineering, UNT College of Engineering

When: July 29 to Aug. 2 – 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

Where: UNT Discovery Park, 3940 North Elm St. in Denton.

This program is designed for students with little to no previous exposure to computer engineering who have an interest in basic programming and working with computer hardware. Activities will include:

  • Basic programming concepts – students will learn how to write C programs with simple loop and conditional structures.
  • Rover programming – students will learn how to use the Ti-Nspire calculator to program simple tasks that can be executed on a Ti-Innovator Rover.
  • Internet of Things (IoT) activity – students will interact with an IoT environment (smart lights, alarm, buttons, temperature sensor, humidity sensor, Amazon Echo Dot with Alexa and other devices) and create a smart IoT application which will interact with the devices and generate necessary outputs.
  • Printed Circuit Board (PCB) soldering – students will solder sample PCBs and test their PCB with a power source.

Explore STEM! Computer Science

Instructor: Dr. Stephanie Ludi, professor of computer science and engineering, UNT College of Engineering

When: Aug. 5 to 9 – 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

Where: UNT Discovery Park, 3940 North Elm St. in Denton.

This camp is for students with an interest in basic programming and working with computer hardware as it pertains to the Internet. Students must have the ability to understand basic concepts of coding and be able to follow instructions to create and test computer programs. This program is designed for students with little to no previous exposure to computer science who have an interest in programming and coding and will start with basic concepts that include:

  • Internet foundations
  • Website design
  • Programming and testing

Dr. Ludi has a particular interest in students with visual impairments and would like to open the opportunity to students with visual impairments first.

Maker STEM Camp (in partnership with the SciTech Discovery Center in Frisco)

Instructor: Various

When: Aug. 5 to 9 – 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Where: SciTech Discovery Center, 8004 North Dallas Parkway in Frisco.

Students will be introduced to STEM skills and learn their practical applications as well as have an opportunity for career exposure.  Activities include:

  • Woodworking: Participants will be introduced to the makerspace workshop. They will learn basic shop safety and complete a skills assessment for basic hand tools which include hammers, hand saws and electric drills. They will use these tools to cut, shape, glue and form the most versatile of materials – wood – to safely create a unique wooden object to take home.
  • Mechanical linkages: Mechanical linkages aren’t glamorous, but they are used to bring objects, such as Halloween props, robots and animatronics to life. In this workshop, students will develop blueprints and build an animatronic take-home object from cardboard, foam board, wood and/or metal.
  • Electronics: Almost everything we touch today contains electronics. They are the building blocks of technology. In this workshop, students will learn about components, circuits and how to solder, then take home what they make.
  • Scratch programming and Makey Makey: Software coding is what makes our electronic gadgets so cool. In this workshop, students will learn to code in Scratch and make a unique input interface device. Their creation will interface to their code via Makey Makey, a way to connect the software world to the hardware world. Students take home what they make.
  • Arduino: Arduino is a great tool that allows students to program a microcontroller – a discrete electronic component that operates like a basic computer. Knowing how to use an Arduino is an essential skill for a maker. It allows you to create almost anything from animatronic dinosaurs to funhouse lighting. This is a more advanced topic involving coding and electronics and will introduce students to basics of microcontrollers and their applications.

More information about the camps.