Designing Physical Representations of STEM Concepts With College Students With Cognitive Impairments
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DescriptionIn response to the need for more accessible methodologies to teach design and design processes, Georgia Tech’s Excel program offers a Collaborative Design course for college students with intellectual and developmental disabilities. The course has two primary goals: 1) to support authentic inclusive design by promoting opportunities for the Excel students to collaborate on design and 2) to enable equitable access to the vocabulary and language of design and design processes. This paper introduces a pilot module within the course that focuses on exploring hands-on physical representations of online physics simulations. The objective for this module is to reinforce learning about the language of design through physical prototyping processes. Additionally, students are engaged in understanding the role that design plays in supporting users’ interactions with science content. Inclusive design is a major theme in the course and students are expected to imagine ways that their designs can convey a physics concept to a wide range of users. Students work in teams to review a physics concept represented by an online simulation, discuss and present ideas for representing aspects of the concept, and build a working prototype. Through these activities, students are developing a variety of skills including collaboration, visualization, ideation, sketching and physical construction. By the end of this pilot, we will have a documented process to report and reflect on for considering improvements to the module and informing the development of other course activities. We will also have a set of activity resources and artifacts of the team’s processes.