Skynet Junior Scholars: Bringing Astronomy to Deaf and Hard of Hearing Youth
Skynet Junior Scholars (SJS), funded by the National Science Foundation, aims to engage middle school youth from diverse audiences in
investigating the universe with research quality robotic telescopes. SJS project development goals include: 1) Online access to optical and radio telescopes, data analysis tools, and professional astronomers, 2) An age-appropriate web-based interface for controlling remote telescopes, 3) Inquiry-based standards-aligned instructional modules. From an accessibility perspective, the goal of the Skynet Junior Scholars project is to facilitate independent access to the project by all youth including those with blindness or low vision and those who are Deaf or Hard of Hearing.Deaf and Hard of Hearing (DHH) students have long been an underserved population within STEM fields, including astronomy. Two main barriers include: (1) insufficient corpus of American Sign Language (ASL) for astronomy terminology, and (2) DHH education professionals who lack astronomy background. A suite of vocabulary, accessible hands-on activities, and interaction with trained professionals, are critical for enhancing the background experiences of DHH youth, as they may come to an astronomy lesson lacking the basic "incidental learning" that is often taken for granted with hearing peers (for example, from astronomy in the media).A collaboration between the Skynet Junior Scholars (SJS) project and the Wisconsin School for the Deaf is bringing astronomy to the DHH community in an accessible way for the first time. We follow a group of seven DHH youth over one semester as they interact with the SJS tools and curriculum to understand how they assimilate astronomy experiences and benefit from access to telescopes both directly (on school campus and at Yerkes Observatory) and through Skynet's robotic telescope network (optical and radio telescopes, inquiry-based modules, data analysis tools, and professional astronomers). We report on our first findings of resources and best practices for engaging DHH youth in astronomy in the future.
Meredith, K., Williamson, K., Gartner, C., Hoette, V. L., & Heatherly, S. A. (2016). Skynet Junior Scholars: Bringing Astronomy to Deaf and Hard of Hearing Youth (Vol. 227, p. 246.09). Presented at the American Astronomical Society Meeting Abstracts #227.
Type of Publication
Meredith, Kate | Williamson, Kathryn E. | Gartner, Constance | Hoette, Vivian L. | Heatherly, Sue A.
University of Chicago Yerkes Observatory | National Radio Astronomy Observatory | Wisconsin School for the Deaf
American Astronomical Society, AAS Meeting #227
Conference Proceeding Type
Nation(s) of Study
United States of America
4-8 January 2016