High School Student Creates STEM Opportunities for Kids with ASD.
My name is Dhruv Balaji, and I am a sophomore at Princeton Day School and the author of 9 DIY Experiments Perfect For Children On The Spectrum. My book’s aim is to spark an interest in science within children on the autism spectrum, something that is not emphasized as much as it should be in the real world. Children with autism are generally thought of as less capable than others, but from my own experience, I know that isn’t the slightest bit true. Children with autism learn differently, yes. But that doesn’t mean their passions and abilities within the field of STEAM should ever be limited. This misconception was the main motivator for me to write this book, combined with the fact that STEAM opportunities for children on the spectrum are extremely rare, especially in this new virtual world.
The book uses science experiments to engage children with autism by creating moderately colorful, intriguing reactions that provoke asking more questions and also a passion for science. It also utilizes visual elements and text meant to simplify the scientific method, and connect the experiments they tackle to the larger world around them. The experiments themselves are designed to be collaborative, to draw families together over gathering household objects to create a tiny parachute, for instance. The creation of this book allowed me to grow as a person in many ways, especially learning about the creative process, and I learned even more about autism and mental disorders in general. This book was designed to be enjoyed by any age and skill level, with something for every reader. One aspect I enjoyed most during my initial research, was evaluating new experiments through the eyes of the potential reader, and noting which elements of the procedure would draw them in. It is my hope that through my book I can make as big of an impact as possible by inspiring children on the spectrum to further pursue opportunities in STEAM.
For more info, check out Spectrum Robotics, our organization that teaches STEAM to children with autism free of charge.