Vanessa de Kauwe has been an advocate for education and disability empowerment for many years, so much so that she enlisted a group of young adults with intellectual disabilities to create Science Alliance. Science Alliance is an alliance between science professionals and the disability community, aimed at the empowerment of students with neuro-diversity.
Science Alliance combines hands-on science with disability education to enable the full inclusion of students of all abilities in science classrooms and beyond. A core component of Science Alliance is the “Steps of Thinking”, which can be used to educate people of all abilities.
The “Steps of Thinking” showcases the difference between providing an instruction to finish a task, and providing instruction to promote independent thought and problem solving. Just as a person with physical difficulties has physiotherapy to assist the well-being of their body; Similarly, the "Steps of Thinking" systematically guides students through intellectual processes needed to understand, explore and create science for themselves. Hands-on science is a fun and accessible way to practice the "Steps of Thinking", but there is no limit as to how students may choose to use it in their daily lives.
In late 2018 the ACT Down Syndrome Association approached Vanessa to request the facilitation of Science classes for their members with Down Syndrome and other intellectual disabilities. In mid 2019, the group Science Alliance was created with members of the ACT Down Syndrome Association. This group has been continuing to meet and was transitioned to online lessons during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Vanessa de Kauwe with assistants from the ACT Down Syndrome Association Science Alliance group will present a live demonstration of the Steps of Thinking employed to educate students of all abilities.