Discovery retreat teaches coding to Lubbock-area deaf and hard-of-hearing students

Robotics Retreat

LUBBOCK, TX (KCBD) - Lubbock-area deaf and hard-of-hearing students in grades six through 12 met at Texas Tech University to learn about coding drones on Saturday.

The Discovery Retreat was hosted by the Educational Resource Center on Deafness and the Virginia Murray Sowell Center for Research and Education in Sensory Disabilities.

“We have some deaf, we have some hard-of-hearing, we have some oral. We have so many communication options that we can actually meet their needs and give them the opportunity to experience coding with deaf adults,” Brooke Sipek, the coordinator of Discovery Retreat, said.

Students participated in hands-on activities designed to encourage interest in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, and had the opportunity to meet deaf adults who work in the STEM field.

Ken Brown, a volunteer, said the program gives kids the opportunity to see other deaf role models.

“That’s key. They see we’re teachers, we’re professional, we’re doctorates. I own a company. They can see that deaf people can do that,” Brown said.

Discovery Retreats are hosted regularly throughout the state. The goal of this program was to empower people in Lubbock to take it and continue to run it.

“We’re noticing that the kids are meeting other kids they haven’t met, and they’re in the same area. And they’re realizing, I’m not alone, I’m not the only deaf kid here, I have other people who are in the same boat,” Brown said.

In addition to coding, students also participated in activities that taught fundamental team-building skills such as goal-setting and communicating with others.

“I didn’t have these opportunities when I was young, never really involved in team or learning these sciences, it’s amazing. Seeing students here, being able to give time to them, I feel like they’re our future, they’re a part of us, our family,” Laura Cook, a team-building coach, said.

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