1. Lynn Cominsky
  2. http://epo.sonoma.edu/~lynnc/
  3. Professor and Chair
  4. NASA's Neurodiversity Network
  5. http://n3.sonoma.edu
  6. Sonoma State University
  1. Andrew Grillo-Hill
  2. https://www.wested.org/personnel/andrew-grillo-hill/
  3. Senior Research Associate
  4. NASA's Neurodiversity Network
  5. http://n3.sonoma.edu
  6. WestEd
  1. Wendy Martin
  2. http://www.edc.org/wendy-martin
  3. Senior Research Scientist
  4. NASA's Neurodiversity Network
  5. http://n3.sonoma.edu
  6. Education Development Center (EDC)
  1. Bryan Mendez
  2. https://www.linkedin.com/in/bjmendez/
  3. Education Specialist
  4. NASA's Neurodiversity Network
  5. http://n3.sonoma.edu
  6. UC Berkeley
  1. Sylvia Perez
  2. https://nysci.org/people/sylvia-perez/
  3. Senior Vice President of Education Services
  4. NASA's Neurodiversity Network
  5. http://n3.sonoma.edu
  6. New York Hall of Science
  1. Laura Peticolas
  2. http://epo.sonoma.edu/group/laura-peticolas/
  3. Associate Director
  4. NASA's Neurodiversity Network
  5. http://n3.sonoma.edu
  6. Sonoma State University
  1. Ariana Riccio
  2. Senior Research Associate
  3. NASA's Neurodiversity Network
  4. http://n3.sonoma.edu
  5. Education Development Center (EDC)
  1. Joshua Valcarcel
  2. Research Associate
  3. NASA's Neurodiversity Network
  4. http://n3.sonoma.edu
  5. WestEd
  1. Georgette Williams
  2. https://www.linkedin.com/in/georgette-williams-b282b035/
  3. Director of Education Services
  4. NASA's Neurodiversity Network
  5. http://n3.sonoma.edu
  6. New York Hall of Science
Public Discussion

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  • Icon for: Ariana Riccio

    Ariana Riccio

    Co-Presenter
    Senior Research Associate
    May 10, 2022 | 09:25 a.m.

    Welcome and thank you for viewing our N3 video, narrated by one of our 2021 interns, Jordan O’Kelley. Including autistic voices in everything we do is a key component of NASA’s Neurodiversity Network. We are so proud of the scientific and engineering projects done by our 2021 interns and we are excited to see what our 2022 interns will accomplish! Mentors for the interns are NASA Subject Matter Experts in fields of study that comprise NASA’s Science Mission Directorate: Astrophysics, Heliophysics, Planetary Science and Earth & Environmental Sciences. Mentors are also provided with training in working with autistic learners and a small financial stipend. However, finding good mentors is one of our most difficult challenges. We welcome suggestions about ways to reach potential mentors and incentivize them to participate. We also would be happy to hear from you about any other internship opportunities for these amazing future scientists and engineers.

  • Icon for: Karen Mutch-Jones

    Karen Mutch-Jones

    Facilitator
    Senior Researcher/Center Director
    May 10, 2022 | 03:55 p.m.

    Thank you for presenting this interesting project--I think the field will benefit greatly as you share approaches for redesigning activities so they will be more engaging for autistic learners.  Since mentors are key to program success, I am curious about the training they receive to prepare for the role.  Also, what are some lessons learned regarding effective supports for intern engagement and learning from the project? I'll be sure to point potential mentors and interns toward N3!

  • Icon for: Ariana Riccio

    Ariana Riccio

    Co-Presenter
    Senior Research Associate
    May 12, 2022 | 09:14 a.m.

    Hello Karen! Thanks for your comment. We believe it's critically important that our mentors and our interns feel supported in their summer internship journeys. Our mentors attend a training in the spring to learn more about autism hosted by the our friends at NYU's ASD Nest Support Project. This training specifically focuses on working with autistic learners and provides strategies for mentors. We cover topics such as how to structure projects to assist with challenges in executive function, ways to accommodate different communication preferences, and how to prepare interns to complete their final projects and presentations. 

    Our 2021 interns were all very engaged with their projects - all of the 16 interns who participated in the program last year had deep interests in NASA subjects before beginning their internship and our SMEs were very dedicated to allowing interns to dive deeply into their interests in order to complete a final project. We find that focusing on a student-driven process of exploring interests, designing projects, and sharing them with our community is critical to engagement. This year, we will be adding some intern-only meetings to the calendar in order to help our interns network and meet other interns with similarly deep interests in STEM. All internships are completed virtually so we are hoping to build an online community of N3 learners! 


    Thanks for offering to send along some interns and mentors! We will be offering this program again next summer and hope to continue growing our network. You can stay updated on our program progress at our website.

  • Icon for: Karen Mutch-Jones

    Karen Mutch-Jones

    Facilitator
    Senior Researcher/Center Director
    May 15, 2022 | 09:32 a.m.

    Thank you for sharing more details about the program--I appreciate the ways in which support is proactive, with trainings that educate mentors about challenges, but also enable them to accommodate preferences from the start.  I imagine that many mentors and interns form strong relationships as a result, yes?  And while mentors are there specifically to support interns, I assume they learn and grow as well. The intern-only meetings seem like a good way to enhance the intern experience.  I'll be sure to check out your website in the coming months. 

     
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    Laura Peticolas
  • Icon for: Chris Atchison

    Chris Atchison

    Facilitator
    Professor
    May 11, 2022 | 05:54 p.m.

    Wonderful work and excellent narration, Jordan!  This is certainly one I will be sharing with students I have and will be working with in the future.  To follow-up with Karen's mentorship training question, are past interns offered an opportunity to remain involved as peer mentors?  What about opportunities for interns to help mentors see diverse perspectives to strengthen the mentor/intern relationship in the future?  Are interns given the opportunity to support the training and development of the mentors?  

     
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    Claudia Bolaños
  • Icon for: Wendy Martin

    Wendy Martin

    Co-Presenter
    Senior Research Scientist
    May 12, 2022 | 09:11 a.m.

    Hi Chris,

    Great questions. We did gather feedback from the interns about their experience and used their feedback to make revisions to the internship program this year. We also started a listserv for the interns where we provide more information about other internships and opportunities that they might be interested in. However, I really like your idea about having the interns help the mentors develop as better mentors. We could add something like that this year. We are alway looking for ways to continue working with our interns.

     
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    Chris Atchison
  • Icon for: Chris Atchison

    Chris Atchison

    Facilitator
    Professor
    May 12, 2022 | 12:35 p.m.

    Glad to hear this, Wendy. Is the listserv just a way of sending out information, or creating more of a community through discussion?  Do you have a way for open communication to happen, even with past interns?  A wealth of knowledge by keeping everyone involved in the community in some capacity.  

  • Icon for: Lynn Cominsky

    Lynn Cominsky

    Lead Presenter
    Professor and Chair
    May 12, 2022 | 12:45 p.m.

    That is a great question Chris. We were hoping the interns would email back to the listserve and comment on the opportunities we are sending them and communicate with each other as well, but in fact few seem to use email as their main mode of communications. From what I can tell, this is typical for today's teens. We also previously tried using Slack to get them to communicate regularly with their mentors, but that only worked in a few cases. If you have any ideas for ways to communicate with today's teens, please share. We have made one TikTok video of a dancing JiggyBot but I don't think TikTok is meant to be used as a general communications tool.

     
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    Chris Atchison
  • Icon for: Chris Atchison

    Chris Atchison

    Facilitator
    Professor
    May 12, 2022 | 01:07 p.m.

    Trial and error, Lynn. Happy to see you trying your best. Have you asked the students what would keep them engaged in the community discussion?  I have a small group of Autistic students and academics who prefer to use Whatsapp to share ideas and otherwise check in on each other.  Keep up the great work!

     
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    Laura Peticolas
    Claudia Bolaños
  • Icon for: Lynn Cominsky

    Lynn Cominsky

    Lead Presenter
    Professor and Chair
    May 12, 2022 | 01:11 p.m.

    We have not yet tried Whatsapp so we will definitely check it out.

  • Icon for: Catherine Horn

    Catherine Horn

    Facilitator
    Moores Professor and Chair
    May 11, 2022 | 10:18 p.m.

    Lynn - Love, love, love this project! I appreciate deeply the intentional and interdisciplinary effort to create rigorous and engaging learning for neuro divergent students. In your collaborations with educators, what have been the most important learnings from curriculum implementation you have drawn? How have you already begun to modify what you are doing as a result? In general, I'm really interested in hearing how you are defining and measuring success in development and execution of this project.

    GREAT work!

     

     
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    Discussion is closed. Upvoting is no longer available

    Laura Peticolas
  • Icon for: Wendy Martin

    Wendy Martin

    Co-Presenter
    Senior Research Scientist
    May 12, 2022 | 09:16 a.m.

    Hi Catherine,

    Thanks for your questions. One important component of this project is co-designing school-based programs with neurodiverse students and their teachers. In our first year we learned so much about how to make our astronomy program more engaging and accessible during our co-design sessions. Some of the most important feedback was to add more visuals, hands-on activities and videos, and also to have a theme to tie the activities together.  We know that many members of this community are experienced with using co-design in your work. We would love to hear more about how others structure co-design experiences and what they have learned from them.

  • May 12, 2022 | 05:39 p.m.

    This looks like a great program! Does N3 also provides any support for autistic current employees? This question was brought up at one of our NASA meetings.

  • Icon for: Lynn Cominsky

    Lynn Cominsky

    Lead Presenter
    Professor and Chair
    May 12, 2022 | 05:46 p.m.

    Hi Claudia. We are in year 2 of the program, and thus far we are focusing on the high school to college transition for our learners. We are also training NASA employees throughout SciAct and the Science Mission Directorate so that a larger group of people will understand the challenges faced by autistic employees. However, we have no current plans to work directly with those employees or their employers. It is an interesting issue and one for which we would like to provide support, but we have no specific funding to do so at this time. Did you have some specific supports in mind?

     
    1
    Discussion is closed. Upvoting is no longer available

    Claudia Bolaños
  • May 12, 2022 | 06:28 p.m.

    Sounds like you're on the right path.  Although we were told NASA has no formal support for autistic employees, they did suggest seeking out informal help or support groups elsewhere.

    I understand the limits of funding, in which case I recommend sharing a N3-approved list of external autism-friendly resources (therapists, accommodations, sensory rooms, etc.), that would meet your team's approval.

    I also recommend reaching out to autistic content creators or activists. Tell them about N3 then either: (A) ask their input for any ways to improve, (B) invite them to come as guest speakers, (C) invite them to join N3's staff. If you're doing these already then that's awesome.

    Also very glad that you're formally training NASA  to better understand autistic employees.

    Hope that all helps!

     
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    Discussion is closed. Upvoting is no longer available

    Laura Peticolas
  • Icon for: Sylvia Perez

    Sylvia Perez

    Co-Presenter
    Senior Vice President of Education Services
    May 13, 2022 | 12:55 p.m.
    • Hello everyone! Collaborating with our N3 partners has enabled us to better expand our own museum experiences for neurodiverse learners at the New York Hall of Science including our first ever week long camp for neurodiverse middle school students. An additional goal in this project is to develop a set of astronomy related resources that are adaptable in a variety of informal settings from drop in activity stations (for families of various ages) to week long camps (for middle school students). As we develop these resources, we would love to hear from educators on challenges they encounter serving neurodiverse learners within their own organization that will inform us on which strategies to incorporate within our resources that addresses these challenges.

     

     
    1
    Discussion is closed. Upvoting is no longer available

    Claudia Bolaños
  • Icon for: Jean Fahy

    Jean Fahy

    Math Teacher and Academic Coach
    May 15, 2022 | 09:59 a.m.

    Hi Lynn and Team,

    The outcomes of this project will benefit so many students and educators (both formal and informal) as well as society as a whole.  I think that the video series created by the Astronomical Society of the Pacific "Welcoming Girls to Astronomy"  https://videohall.com/p/2316 contains some great welcoming techniques that may be valuable to incorporate into your mentor training - of course you may already include all of these techniques!  Good luck with your project!

     
    2
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    Laura Peticolas
    Claudia Bolaños
  • Icon for: Laura Peticolas

    Laura Peticolas

    Co-Presenter
    Associate Director
    May 16, 2022 | 09:39 a.m.

    Thank you Jean, for visiting our video and project. I will watch the ASP's video today and see what they are sharing about welcoming techniques. 

  • Icon for: Laura Peticolas

    Laura Peticolas

    Co-Presenter
    Associate Director
    May 16, 2022 | 09:40 a.m.

    Thank you for your interest in our project. We have discussed several aspects of the work we are doing to engage neurodiverse, specifically autistic, teens in earth and space physics and scientific/engineering practices. One way our project is achieving this is through an iterative curriculum development and co-design process. This process begins by using existing NASA-developed activities and curriculum materials that our team redesigns given our expertise in earth & space science and in teaching neurodiverse learners. Our team, including autistic teens and their teachers, test the curriculum activities prior to implementation in the classroom. After some iteration of the curriculum, teachers implement the new activities with their students either during regular instruction or in summer sessions. Co-design sessions are then held with our entire team after the curriculum is implemented with the goal of incorporating student and teacher feedback to create finalized curriculum materials and teaching tools based on their experiences. After the co-design process, only then is the curriculum fully redesigned, making it ready for wide dissemination.

  • May 16, 2022 | 12:41 p.m.

    Great project Lynn et al!!

     
    1
    Discussion is closed. Upvoting is no longer available

    Laura Peticolas
  • Icon for: Lynn Cominsky

    Lynn Cominsky

    Lead Presenter
    Professor and Chair
    May 16, 2022 | 06:12 p.m.

    Thanks Kim. We are learning a lot and are super impressed with our interns and their projects from last summer. You can view 14/16 final presentations on our website: http://n3.sonoma.edu/internships 

  • Icon for: Ronda Jenson

    Ronda Jenson

    Higher Ed Faculty
    May 16, 2022 | 05:46 p.m.

    Very fun!!!  Thank you for sharing.  Do you have any reports on your program and resulting data that you could share?  I'm conducting a systematic review of informal learning experiences for neurodiverse students.  I'd like to include your program in our review. 

  • Icon for: Lynn Cominsky

    Lynn Cominsky

    Lead Presenter
    Professor and Chair
    May 17, 2022 | 05:54 p.m.

    We have several evaluation reports incuding one about the internship program, and another one about the codesign process. If you send me your email, I can send them to you. Please email me at lynnc@universe.sonoma.edu 

  • Icon for: Overtoun Jenda

    Overtoun Jenda

    Higher Ed Administrator
    May 17, 2022 | 02:22 p.m.

    Wonderful project, Lynn. Let us connect.

  • Icon for: Lynn Cominsky

    Lynn Cominsky

    Lead Presenter
    Professor and Chair
    May 17, 2022 | 05:52 p.m.

     Yes I will definitely be reaching out to you and your team soon. I think we have a lot of common goals and it would be good to discuss our mutual interests.

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