The STEM Career Showcase for Students with Disabilities is an annual educational event where attendees meet role models with disabilities who have thriving careers in STEM fields. The 2017 STEM Career Showcase featured Dr. Temple Grandin as the keynote speaker. Students will also meet other professionals in STEM fields during a panel discussion, including Dr. Amy Bower from Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute, Mike Claes from Cisco, Patrick Williams from the NC Museum of Natural Sciences and Ryan Benson from the Centers for Disease Control.
Dr. Grandin is an amazing speaker with a fascinating career. Dr. Grandin is a professor of animal science at Colorado State University, consultant to the livestock industry on animal behavior, and an autism spokesperson. During her keynote speech, Dr. Grandin shares insights from her personal experience of living with autism, how her mind works, and she provides tips on how to teach students with autism.
Editor's Note: As an educator, I have worked with many students who are visually impaired and on the autistic spectrum. Most students are not able to articulate how their brain processes; Dr Grandin provided insights about autism that made me rethink my teaching strategies. Dr. Grandin's speech brought up so many practical things that every educator should know! 1 in every 68 U.S. children have been identified with an autism spectrum disorder - every educator will work with students on the autism spectrum. Dr. Grandin's speech is also very appropriate for students on the autism spectrum and for their families.
Her dynamic speech talks about famous inventors, insights of the autistic brain, educating students with autism, and more!
Characteristics of people with successful STEM careers
- Early exposure to career interests
- Teenage jobs or internships
- Art hobbies
- Do not over specialize
Schools need to keep the hands-on classes - such as woodworking, music, theater, sewing, cooking.
Four Types of Thinking
- Photo Realistic Visual Thinking: Object Visualizer - poor at reading
- Pattern Thinker: Spatial Visualizer - often good in math but poor in reading
- Verbal Facts: Language Translation - poor at drawing
- Auditory Thinker - visual perception fragmented
Students on the autism spectrum are frequently
- Visual thinkers - they think in visual images/pictures
- Bottom up thinkers and they need hands-on and four or five examples
- Concepts are built on specific examples; they do not generalize information
- No working memory; need step-by-step instructions. (Classrooms tend to be highly verbal and uses the top down thinking.)
- Brain that is constantly thinking; not tuned into the more social/emotional brain
Dr. Grandin gives practical suggestions around 52 minutes in the video below.
Students on the autism spectrum: sell your work, rather than yourself!
Dr. Temple Grandin begins speaking in the video at 16:25. The panel discussion comprised of mentors with various disabilities begins about 1:04:00
For more information go to Dr. Grandin's autism website.
The STEM Career Showcase event is hosted by the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences.