Breaking barriers to STEM careers for kids with disabilities

Join the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office's (USPTO) Office of Education on June 27, 6-7:30 p.m. ET, as we welcome Joann Blumenfeld, a former special education teacher and a passionate advocate for making science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education accessible to all. She will share how she is creating more inclusive access to STEM careers for children of all abilities.

Joann Blumenfeld

Joann, a 20-year Wake County Public School System veteran teacher, was named one of Time's Innovative Teachers of 2022 for her efforts to help more students access the STEM workforce. She was selected by The Friday Institute for Educational Innovation to receive its 2022 Friday Medal award. Joann created Catalyst, a North Carolina State University program that provides STEM opportunities for high school students with disabilities, including STEM-related field trips, mentoring, job skills, paid STEM internships, and counseling on educational and career options. Through these experiences students build up problem-solving, collaboration, communication, research skills, and their own self-confidence to set them on a path to obtain STEM careers. Under Joann's leadership, Catalyst students won a 2017 Lemelson-MIT InvenTeam grant to develop a mat that screens for lameness in cows and costs 1% of the amount of similar devices on the market.

She is also a 2018 alumna of the USPTO's National Summer Teacher Institute and leads Connecting Students with Autism to Geographic Information Systems and Technology, a National Science Foundation Grant program that introduces high school students to drone piloting. She has presented at over 30 conferences and published many articles to help her fellow educators help their students. She has been a Kenan Fellow, a NASA Educator Ambassador, a North Carolina Science Leadership Fellow, a National Science Teachers Association Beginning Teachers Dow Fellow, and has received numerous educator awards, including The Henry Ford’s Innovation Nation Teacher Innovator Award and the North Carolina Council for Exceptional Children’s Teacher of Excellence award.

Join now

The USPTO hosts monthly professional development webinars for K-12 educators interested in integrating IP, innovation, and invention activities into their STEM/STEAM curriculum. Whether you’re a school administrator, teacher, student, parent, or caregiver, you are welcome to join us every month to hear from educators and learn about different types of IP, including patents, trademarks, copyrights, and trade secrets. These sessions can help inspire a classroom of problem solvers and shape career choices. Sessions are held by webinar on the last Tuesday of each month from 6-7:30 p.m. ET.

Visit the USPTO's Office of Education page or email to learn more.

Accessibility accommodation


If you are an individual with a disability and would like to request a reasonable accommodation, please submit your request to the contact information listed above.

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This event is part of a series: K-12 education