Across the United States, more and more neurodiverse young people are being integrated into inclusive schools and out-of-school programs. Teachers and afterschool providers need effective approaches to engage these students with their neurotypical peers, build on their strengths, and prepare them for college and careers.  

To address this need, EDC researchers, maker educators from the New York Hall of Science, autism and engineering experts at New York University (NYU), and teachers working in autism inclusion middle schools collaboratively developed and tested the IDEAS Maker Program curriculum. Based on the success of the curriculum, the team is expanding the program to make the engineering-design maker program available and sustainable in a wide range of autism inclusion schools.

Key Activities

EDC and its partners are doing the following:

  • Revising the IDEAS Maker Program curriculum for elementary and high school students
  • Training educators to use the curriculum
  • Documenting how different schools adapt the program
  • Measuring the impact of the expanded version of the program on students’ STEM career interest and self-efficacy
  • Working with young adult autism self-advocates to add workforce development activities and extensions to the curriculum
  • Working with the New York City (NYC) Department of Education and NYU professional development providers to tailor the curriculum and implementation strategies to meet their needs
  • Creating a remote learning version of the curriculum and associated professional development to accommodate the move to remote learning in NYC schools


By the end of the project, the program will be:

  • Fully integrated into 12 inclusion elementary, middle, and high schools in NYC
  • Available to 54 autism inclusion elementary, middle, and high schools in NYC
  • Provided as a standard offering by NYU’s ASD Nest Support project and NYC’s autism inclusion professional development provider
  • Made available to educators across the United States for both in-person and remote implementation

A video about the project received a Facilitators’ Choice Award at the 2021 STEM For All Video Showcase.

Learn More

National Science Foundation

ASD Nest Support Project at NYU Steinhardt; New York Hall of Science; SRI International