Jefferson Lab Teams Up With State Organizations to Advance STEM Awareness For Deaf and Hard of Hearing Students

  • Jefferson Lab’s Brita Hampton explains to students how to conduct an activity called The Shape of Things

Jefferson Lab’s Brita Hampton explains to students how to conduct an activity called The Shape of Things. A marble is rolled down the chute and bounces off of a shape hidden under the pie pan. Students study how the marble ricochets off the hidden shape – from all sides – then use that information to determine the shape of the hidden object. Hampton is assisted by American Sign Language Interpreter, Kathleen Vance.

Events Provide Parents with Opportunity to Learn About Resources

NEWPORT NEWS, VA - Jefferson Lab teamed up with Outreach Services of the Virginia School for the Deaf and the Blind (VSDB) and the Va. Dept. for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing (VDDHH) to conduct a series of informational and educational events across the Commonwealth for deaf and hard of hearing 4th-8th grade students and members of their families.

The final event for the year took place on June 10 at Jefferson Lab. Earlier events were held at the Virginia School for the Deaf and the Blind in Staunton, Stafford County and Radford University.

The events were held to engage students in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) activities and make them aware of STEM opportunities, while providing them with the opportunity to meet students from other school divisions who are deaf or hard of hearing. Jefferson Lab Science Education Staff Administrator, Brita Hampton, conducted two hands-on, interactive activities with the students: One where they tested and extrapolated the distance a model car would travel based on the angle of incline of its starting point, and another where they analyzed data to determine the shape of a hidden object – based on how a marble (probe) bounced off of the hidden object.

The students received guidance from Hampton, and assistance from local American Sign Language Interpreter, Kathleen Vance and Teacher of the Deaf, Kris Igana.

“The students were really enthusiastic about these events,” Hampton said. “They liked meeting other deaf and/or hard of hearing kids; and they were eager to participate in the experiments!”

This was complemented by a resources display and information provided by Gary Talley, of the VDDHH, for the students and their parents. The display included alerting devices and specialized telephone equipment for the home, available through the Technical Assistance Program (TAP).

On hand to answer questions and provide assistance to the students and their parents was the Director of Outreach Services for VSDB, Dr. Debbie Pfeiffer. “Offering these fun and educational programs has helped to bring the families together,” Dr. Pfeiffer noted. “Many of the children are the only students in their schools who are deaf or hard of hearing, so this is a terrific opportunity for them to meet each other, and for parents to network. 

“Brita makes science so much fun,” she added. “I believe many of the students who attend enter unsure of whether they like or are capable in the area of science, and leave seeing themselves as scientists!”

Hampton described the parents (and grandparents) as very grateful for the VDDHH presentations. “There was so much good information,” she noted “The events served as a very useful, educational opportunity for the parents (and grandparents). It helps them learn how to better deal with some of the unique challenges faced by deaf and hard of hearing individuals.”

Hampton said that Jefferson Lab anticipates conducting future programs with these state organizations – at new locations and offering different activities.


Contact: Deb Magaldi,, 757-269-5102


Jefferson Science Associates, LLC, manages and operates the Thomas Jefferson National Accelerator Facility, or Jefferson Lab, for the U.S. Department of Energy's Office of Science. JSA is a wholly owned subsidiary of the Southeastern Universities Research Association, Inc. (SURA).

DOE’s Office of Science is the single largest supporter of basic research in the physical sciences in the United States and is working to address some of the most pressing challenges of our time. For more information, visit