What is Empowerment Through Integration?
In the summer of 2017, I had the experience of traveling to Lebanon as the STEM Curriculum Advisor of Empowerment Through Integration, or ETI. ETI is an NGO non-profit organization dedicated to transforming the stigma around disabled youth while fostering an environment in which blind children are empowered to follow their dreams. It has locations across the globe, from Lebanon to the United States. I had a wonderful time there, and learned a great deal about the challenges facing modern blind children from all over the world.
What did I do?
Now, in the capacity of STEM Curriculum Advisor, I was responsible for writing an accessible scientific curriculum for blind and sighted children alike, their ages ranging from 6-12 years old. For this task, I needed to design experiments that were tactile and could be explained with simple scientific concepts. Calling upon my knowledge of science, as well as my passion for teaching, I created ten lessons, incorporating different realms of science such as the traditional baking soda volcano and a build-your-own stethoscope.
Another experiment, pictured here, was to demonstrate how sound is transmitted through vibration. We created a cone made of paper, and then used a simple pin to create sound by bumping against the cone. The kids were enthralled that this worked, and the blind children who were introduced to this concept were able to easily understand the principle, as it was easily demonstrable and evoked many non-optical senses.
I enjoy this work immensely, and I want to use the experience I’ve gained in the future to guide my work as a teacher and researcher. It was a wonderful experience to bring my knowledge of STEM to Lebanon. It was a remarkable to see what these children face and to gain insight into just what is needed to create a society that welcomes the additional knowledge and experience that the blind can bring to science.