* * * UPDATE * * * As of 3/17/2020, Project POEM will no longer be accepting new applicants for 2020.


The University of Arizona program in visual impairment is recruiting 10 students who are blind or visually impaired for Project Poem, Project -Based Learning Opportunities and Exploration of Mentorship for Students with Visual Impairments in STEM, a National Science Foundation research grant. 

Eligible students are enrolled in special education with the primary disability category of VI. Students must: (a) be in grades 7-11, (b) have an IEP, (c) be independent in their self-care, (d) have academic skills within one year of grade level for reading and writing, and within two grade levels for mathematics, and (e) have an interest in STEM and/or in learning about STEM and potential STEM-related careers

If a student is interested in applying to the program, s/he will be interviewed by 2 members of the Project Poem team.  If accepted, consent forms for students and parents (if the student is younger than 18 years) will be signed. The student will be engaged in the following Project Poem activities if accepted into the project:


1. Readiness Academy:  From May 31 – June 6, 2020, a weeklong summer experience will expose the student to careers in STEM-related fields through hands-on activities at The University of Arizona (UA), including spending time at the UA sky lab at Mt. Lemmon.

2.  Exploration activities will be conducted during the academic school year where the student will have virtual meetings with an industry mentor with VI who is working in a STEM-related career.  Simultaneously, the student will work virtually with a university mentor to design and carry out a project to further understanding of the scientific inquiry practices based on PBL.

3. Enrichment Institute: In the following summer, the student will return to Tucson for one week to stay in a UA dorm and experience college life. During the day, the students will visit labs and job sites in STEM-related fields including the Arizona Materials Laboratory (UA Department of Materials Science and Engineering), San Xavier Underground Mining Lab (UA Department of Mining and Geological Engineering), and the UA BIO5 Institute.  The student will also present the Project POEM project based learning activity that was worked on with the industry mentor and UA science student mentor.

4.  At the beginning and end of Project POEM, the student will be given a survey to complete. The student will also be interviewed to understand his/her current knowledge of science and engineering by asking questions about what s/he already knows and feels about STEM related fields.  At the end of the project, the student will be asked about what was his/her favorite part of the Project POEM experience and what was the most valuable thing s/he learned from the industry mentor with VI.  Since this is a research project, students will complete other surveys and interviews during each phase of the research.

5.  Lodging and transportation are free to students when engaged in the project activities. A travel stipend of $300.00 will be given to those families/participants from outside of Arizona and within the Southwest United States. For students outside of the Southwest United States a $500.00 travel stipend will be awarded. Students are expected to participate in the complete 14 month intervention which includes mentoring activities and camps.


Testimonial from student about her industry mentor:

I would send her voice recordings or measurements of all my information that I had gathered and found out, and I would put it into a presentation. I would show it to her or present it to her, and she would provide positive feedback, what I did well, what could be improved upon, or cool little things to add or some stuff like that. I liked talking to [mentor] because I like planetary science…I really enjoyed talking to her because she was interested, and she was working on a field that I want to look into…She helped me a lot with anything that I had trouble with on projects, any equations or methods she helped me with and taught me about those.


To make a referral to Project Poem:

Please pass on our research team contact information to potential participants who can contact Dr. Irene Topor at 520-626-3863; or Dr. Sunggye Hong at 520-621-0945; directly with the information below or to ask for more information about Project Poem.  Or, complete the form at the Project POEM website and submit it electronically.

Student name: ____________________________________________________________________

Visual Impairment: ________________________________________________________________

Braille reader:   ____Yes   ____No   Print reader:  ____Yes   ____No   Dual media reader:   ____Yes ___No

Age:  ___________________     Grade enrolled: __________________________________________

School District: ____________________________________________________________________

Parents’ name: ____________________________________________________________________

Student/Parent phone number: _______________________________________________________

Mailing address: ____________________________________________________________________

Student email address: _______________________________________________________________

Parent email address: ________________________________________________________________

Student meets 5 criteria to be considered in study:    _________ Yes    _________ No

Why did you choose this student for Project Poem? 


How did you hear about Project Poem? ______________________________________________

Contact information:   Phone: _______________________ Email:  _________________________

Please note that an Institutional Review Board responsible for human subjects research at the University of Arizona reviewed this research project and found Project Poem to be acceptable. according to applicable state and federal regulations and University policies designed to protect the rights and welfare of participants in research.