As my class calculated their speed walking from one building to another on campus, it occurred to me how frequently time tracking is part of science labs. When a student with a visual impairment has the tools and know-how to be the time keeper for an experiment, he/she will be much more interested and involved in the activity. Through a very simple take-home lesson, encouraging and empowering your student with visual impairment to be the time keeper during labs, can truly make a difference in his/her experience in science lab and encourage further interest in science.
How can students with visual impairments track time in science activities?
- The students used accessible apps on their devices for this activity to measure the time it took to walk the distance and measured the distance using a trundle wheel (http://www.perkinselearning.org/accessible-science/trundle-wheel). They then calculated speed using the appropriate formula (Speed= distance/ time).
- This activity, as many science activities, required that students use a tool to track time. For students with visual impairment in general education science classes, familiarity with an accessible stopwatch/timer will allow the student to be more involved in the many lab activities requiring this measurement.
Which time tracking tools are the most accessible?
- As most students have access to an array of portable devices, the focus here is on the most easily accessible tools and apps. In my experience often the easiest tool for students to use has been the accessibility features on their handheld devices - usually iPods or iPads, and I recommend first looking into this option. Often students are already familiar with the use of the accessibility features on their devices and may only need to be prompted to participate in the lab more actively by using these tools.
Other accessible tools include:
Talking Timers: http://www.perkinselearning.org/accessible-science/talking-timer
- Talking timer with large print numbers. Only $21.95. Operates as a timer or reads "up" as a stopwatch.
- Accessible apps: http://www.perkinselearning.org/accessible-science/30-accessible-ipad-ap.... Please refer to Section titled "Stopwatches"
- Jumbo Stopwatch: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/jumbo-stopwatch/id474685619?mt=8
- Talking Timers: http://www.perkinselearning.org/accessible-science/talking-timer
An advantage of a stopwatch over iPad stopwatch is that is can run in the background, allowing the student to time for long periods of time, while the use of the iPad for other purposes is necessary. In other words, the stopwatch keeps measuring even when the iPad is used for other purposes.
As always, accessibility leads to increased participation and engagement.