STEAM inclusivity with Amazelab

14th July 2022 - Kayla Herbert

Written by Leonie Briggs, Amazelab

Courtesy of Amazelab

Together with LimbBo, Amazelab set out to investigate and learn how to make STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts, maths) learning inclusive to young people with limb differences.

Key learning:

Making STEAM inclusive

We chose to work alongside the amazing trustees and young people of LimbBo Foundation, a charity to support young people, and their families, with limb differences. The aim was to ensure STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts, maths) learning was inclusive and fully accessible to everyone with a limb difference.

When we started this project we were looking at  what are the barriers to limb different children, accessing STEAM subjects, were and we were thinking in practical terms such as ‘what prosthetics they might need’, any devices they might need but then when we really thought about it we needed to look at what are the barriers that stop them from accessing STEAM subjects not ‘what can we do to sort any issues’ but taking a step back and using this as a test to see how our limb different children deal with accessing STEAM learning.

Re-thinking barriers

Courtesy of Amazelab

After working with the children our plans completely changed, we thought the project would be about helping to write guidelines for schools and groups to follow to aid young people with limb differences in their learning of STEAM subjects. We quickly discovered these young people don’t actually need anything to access our STEAM workshops as they are completely inclusive. We saw children with both upper and lower limb difference just accessing very easily the slime workshop we ran in development with them.

The charity trustees of LimbBo said: “They used their little arms to hold bowls, to hold spoons,  stirrers whatever they needed they have their own way of doing things. The very tactile nature of slime worked really well in this instance because a lot of them have very sensitive little arms and they use that to test out different consistency and different textures.

“It was a lovely morning with no pressure just allowing them to experiment to be themselves, the noise was incredible the mess was incredible but the results were even better in that basically STEAM is completely inclusive and the only barriers to accessing these subjects arose from us, as adults, worrying about how they will cope but basically our children are great problem solvers and what they couldn’t do they asked their peers to support them which was wonderful to see.”

Ongoing collaboration

Courtesy of Amazelab

The introduction to STEAM workshops with LimbBo has led us on to  creating a larger project working with the charity, I was even invited to become an ambassador for the charity. I am now a very proud STEM Ambassador for LimbBo.

Many children associated with LimbBo are dotted not only around the country but actually around the world so we found it difficult to get everyone in one place! Working on what we discovered during lockdown is that we can run online workshops and the use of factsheets and YouTube videos leading to use setting up an online STEAM and social club for young people and their families with limb differences. Creating boxes of resources, sent out nationwide and even worldwide. The workshops are then ran online for all the children to see one another doing it at the same time.

We also invited young people from the group to make their own videos and factsheets to share, under our guidance, for people to complete at a time that was convenient for them.

LimbBo said “This is an absolute game changer for us we’ve been looking for a long time at how we get our children to interact more online and this is an ideal way. So from something quite small a workshop in Yorkshire for 18 children will hopefully help us to reach the hundreds of children out there with a limb difference who are part of #teamlimbbo.”

Our advice for working with a group of young people you have not worked with before is to really listen to the young people you have the joy to be working alongside. We allowed these amazing young people to explain to us any barriers to learning they face and how they would like to overcome them. By working together, we were able to come up ideas we may not have thought of without the consultation, forging real solutions.

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