Zero Barriers in STEM Education: Wednesday Webinar Series

Zero Barriers in STEM Education: Wednesday Webinar Series

In December 2019, the Smithsonian Science Education Center piloted the Zero Barriers in STEM Education initiative in collaboration with the District of Columbia Public Schools. This initiative, funded by General Motors and Smithsonian Accessibility Innovation Funds, sees STEM teachers as leaders in their school communities. Through that lens, the program works to help teacher leaders increase the prevalence of accessible and inclusive STEM practices and programming at their school sites.  The program supports STEM teacher leaders who work with students with disabilities in the following three ways: providing professional learning opportunities and ongoing support at the start of a school year to better understand how to support students with disabilities in their STEM classroom; equipping teachers with resources and materials for implementation of accessible STEM practices in their classrooms; and, assisting STEM teacher leaders in guiding a school-based team to attend the Zero Barriers in STEM Education Teacher Leader Summit, with the goal of developing an action plan that addresses an area of need related to inclusive STEM programs, practices, and school culture.

The Smithsonian Science Education Center is now expanding its efforts and will be offering webinars developed for the Zero Barriers in STEM Education Summit for all school districts. The webinars will occur between May 5 and June 16.

This series of webinars is meant to support educators in understanding why conversations about accessibility and inclusivity are important for STEM learning and provide instructional strategies that can help STEM educators adopt sound practices to teach students with disabilities.

Webinar attendees will hear from STEM experts, and advocates, in education and industry about the social impact of accessible STEM programming Attendees will learn about best practices to improve accessible and inclusive K-12 STEM learning at the school and district level.

For more information please contact, Sherrell Lewis,





Session A: Implicit Bias: How it impacts DEAI efforts in K-12 STEM Education /Session B: Developing User Confidence & Engagement with New Technologies | Wednesday, May 5 from 1pm - 2:30pm Eastern

In this first session, Implicit Bias: How it impacts Diversity, Equity, Accessibility, and Inclusion (DEAI) efforts in K-12 STEM Education, attendees will be asked to acknowledge their own bias, and then,  working with a common definition, learn about the role of implicit bias and understand its role as an inhibitor to work related to DEAI. During the second session, Developing User Confidence & Engagement with New Technologies, attendees will learn about how a student can be motivated and develop a confidence to explore the unknown through strategies that are used by STEM industry subject matter experts. Together these two sessions will allow educators to confront their own bias and misconceptions to help them rethink their approach to building confidence and means of engagement for students with disabilities. 



District of Columbia Public School Resources and Strategic Plan to Address More Accessible and Inclusive Learning | Wednesday, May 19 from 1pm - 2:30pm Eastern

During this webinar, attendees will learn about the ways that District of Columbia Public Schools is meeting the needs of students with disabilities and improving accessibility and inclusivity practices. 



Summit Keynote Speaker, Dr. Sami Kahn | Saturday, May 22 from 3:45pm - 4:15pm Eastern - 

 As Executive Director of the Council on Science and Technology (CST) at Princeton University, Dr. Sami Kahn works to promote scientific literacy for all through quality interdisciplinary course   development, robust STEM education research, and creative programming.  An award-winning STEM educator, teacher educator, and author, she uses her background in science education and law to inform her research and scholarship on inclusive science practices, socioscientific issues (SSI), argumentation, and social justice.  

 With over thirty years of experience in STEM teaching and learning, Dr. Kahn has taught science to students in Kindergarten through college and has authored/co-authored numerous journal articles and five books on enhancing scientific inquiry experiences for learners of all ages.  She currently serves as Chair of the Inclusive Science Education Forum for the Association for Science     Teacher Education (ASTE) while former posts include serving as Chair of the National Science Teaching Association’s (NSTA) Special Needs Advisory Board and President of NSTA’s associated group,   Science Education for Students with Disabilities (SESD). Her recent publications include a co-edited/authored book entitled, Towards Inclusion of All Learners Through Science Teacher Education (Brill, 2018) and a sole-authored book entitled, It’s Still Debatable! Using Socioscientific Issues to Develop Scientific Literacy, K-5 (NSTA Press, 2019) which uses controversial societal issues related to science and Universal Design for Learning (UDL) as the framework for promoting an informed, participatory, STEM-literate citizenry. 

Dr. Kahn holds an M.S. in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology from Rutgers University, a J.D. in Law from Rutgers School of Law, and a Ph.D. in Curriculum and Instruction with a specialization in Science Education from the University of South Florida where she served as a Presidential Doctoral Fellow.  


IDEAs in STEM: Building Positive STEM Identities in Students with Disabilities | Wednesday, June 9 from 1pm - 2pm Eastern 

This webinar will focus on how educators can meet the needs of students with disabilities in the classroom. Attendees will learn about research that supports interweaving Universal Design for Learning (UDL) with Culturally Sustaining Pedagogy for both in-person and virtual learning. Attendees will also review specific UDL ideas as well as classroom management techniques that help to create positive spaces for all children, and that help students build STEM identities.


Register for Webinar Here! 

IDEAs in STEM: Building Relationships | Wednesday, June 16 from 1pm - 2pm Eastern 

This session will explore the collaborative working relationship between content teachers and special education teachers and how administrators can support this important aspect of meeting the needs of students with disabilities. Attendees will also explore community resources for parents and schools to build positive STEM identities.