Project POEM: Summer Camp and More!

Featured Image: 
Photo of Dr. Steve Kortenkamp, astronomer, holding a yellow inflated 'sun' teaching a solar system lesson to campers.

PROJECT POEM  Project-Based Learning Opportunities and Exploration  of Mentorship for Students with Visual Impairments in STEM


The overall goal of the proposed Strategies project is to better understand and further advance the awareness, persistence, and resilience of STEM-related careers by middle and high school students with visual impairments (VI). The project will build their capacity to pursue these careers through the use of project-based learning (PBL) and mentorship. 

Project POEM has three goals

  1. Create a set of activities based on the Next Generation Science Standards, which will increase STEM awareness and capacity of students with VI
  2. Connect students with VI with industry mentors with VI to learn about their preparation and work in STEM-related careers
  3. Pair students with VI with university STEM mentors to complete a project, which will enhance persistence and resilience towards STEM and career exploration. 

Students with VI will take part in a 14-month intervention comprised of a Readiness Academy (Sky School), Exploration Activities, and an Enrichment Institute. Each student with VI will be paired with an industry mentor who is also VI. A set of activities will guide their interactions as the student learns about the work of the mentor and the technology options used by the mentor on the job site. Students with VI will be paired with a university mentor in a STEM-related major. With guidance from the university mentor, the student with VI will complete a module from a selected activities that will utilize publicly available images and data from the HiRISE camera currently operating on NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO). The successful intervention strategies used in the PBL activities, the mentoring experiences, and the program and evaluation materials developed through this project will be published as a curriculum so others can replicate the program nationally.

The Readiness Academy mentioned in the summary is the “Sky School” portion of the experience.  


Readiness Academy (Sky School): week long summer experience, June 2019

Enrichment Institute: week, 2020


University of Arizona


  • Students living in Arizona, Nevada, Colorado, Utah, California, New Mexico only
  • Primary disability category of VI
  • In grades 7 - 11
  • Have an IEP
  • Be independent in their self-care
  • Have academic skills within one year of grade level for reading and writing, and within two grade levels for mathematics
  • Have an interest in STEM and/or learning about STEM and potential STEM-related careers


  • No cost
  • Food and lodging included

Information and Registration

Contact Person

Irene Topor: 520-626-3863

Dr. Sunggye Hong: 520-621-0945