The demand is high for talent in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields, yet certain groups—such as the deaf--remain significantly underrepresented in these fields.
There is a distinct difference between deaf education and regular education. In regular schools, the emphasis is on listening to a teacher; in deaf schools, learning is visual. Regular schools usually arrange seats in rows; a deaf school will always arrange the seats in a C or U shape so students can see each other and the teacher. Because of their unique learning needs, deaf students sometimes feel limited in their extracurricular learning opportunities.
To combat this learning gap, CGI recently co-hosted a STEM camp in the United States with the American School for the Deaf and global health services company Cigna.
Working closely with school staff to make sure they optimized the curriculum for deaf learners, volunteers from CGI and Cigna planned two different learning tracks: introduction to computer building and introduction to game making. For the computer building track, old computer towers were available for students to take apart, while game making track participants used a drag and drop programming language, called SCRATCH, to begin building a basic computer game.
For many of the students, this was the first time they had hands-on exposure to IT careers. At the end of the day, several students told the volunteers hosting the camp that they felt inspired and are interested in learning more about IT and STEM careers.