Access Tips for Science

Purpose

The study of science and the practical aspect of science are both relevant and can be particularly beneficial to the child with a visual impairment.
 
Child needs encouragement to use their senses to explore. Reinforcement, verbal explanation can clarify and strengthen the child’s knowledge of the real world around them.
 
Interpreting new experiences, understanding links between data, drawing conclusions, deciding on a course of action based on thought and not on physically perceived information are all directly relevant to the child with a visual impairment.
 
Science allows for a wide range of concrete experiences that are beneficial to the child with a visual impairment e.g through handling specimens, models, stretching materials, pushing, pulling, weighing, pouring, moving and measuring.
 
Experience of the child’s environment is limited, understanding is confused due to lack of, or fragmented visual information.
 
science lesson example

Aims of the Practical Science Lesson

The aims of a practical science lesson for a child with a visual impairment are:
 
  • To provide practical work that is purposeful and interesting.
  • To offer work that presents an element of challenge. Practical skills may be more challenging for the child to develop, but to enable them to independently plan and investigate, it is important for them to have an opportunity to develop them.
  • To provide experiences that will enable a true understanding of the scientific concepts based on concrete experiences, leading in time to the development and understanding of more abstract concepts.
 

General teaching points for Science

  • A hand on hand demonstration by the teacher.... or, a run through of the exercise and chance to explore the materials and equipment before the lesson, ensures that the child understands the process and what is expected of them during the lesson.
  • Procedures and techniques need to be developed for the child to use to carry out the exercise.
  • These then need to be agreed upon and practiced and developed.
  • When planning an exercise, the first task is to be clear about the purpose of the activity.
  • What is the concept the child should learn from doing the exercise?
  • Is this exercise the best way to teach the concept to the child?
  • Careful division of tasks during group work will ensure that the slightly slower pace of work delivered by the child with a visual impairment doesn’t impact on the group’s progress.
  • Forward planning is crucial to ensure materials, equipment and resources can be adapted to meet the needs of the child in preparation of the lesson.
 

Experience

Experience is guided and teacher led, possibly involving a demonstration. This should include verbal explanation of the exercise being done, with objects being handed to the child for first hand observation and closer examination.
 

Investigations

Enables the child to plan and carry out their own experiments using the skills that they have mastered.
The investigation should be directed by the child, who should have ownership of the exercise and work as independently as possible.
 
It may be tempting to keep the child safe and not facilitate an opportunity for them to take part in the exercise, but gaining hands on experience is really important.
 

The tips below help to create access to science class and experiments for students who are blind or low vision.

  • Use contrasting equipment in bright colors where possible. Use bright color paint to highlight the edges of equipment.

  • A set of scratch-free equipment kept specifically on a tray for the child’s use, ensures access is as good as possible. Also this saves time in child collecting all the equipment and enables a prompt start to the exercise.

  • An empty tray with lip for child to work on, also makes equipment location easier.

  • Equipment can be blu-tacked or taped down to the table to prevent it from being tipped over.

  • Food colouring can be added to water to make it stand out in clear container.

  • Placement of a piece of colored or white card behind the beaker can make the measurements easier to see.

  • Use models, 2D representation, adapted diagrams to explain processes and understand concepts, reinforced with verbal explanation.
  • Mark scales using large print/braille labels.

  • wikki stix

    Use wikki stix and bump ons to make highly visible, tactile markings on scales.

  • Standard tape measures can be marked by sticking plastic strips to the scale.

  • String can be knotted at known distances apart and painted bright colors to provide a cheap measuring string.

  • Use Braille Embossing Film to draw the object that is being examined under the microscope

  • Place small objects to be viewed under the CCTV

 

Teeth and Eating

toy teeth

  • Make flash cards in large print or braille, e.g. diet, incisor, molar. 
  • Collect an assortment of food and food packets for grouping and sorting.
  • Collect models of animals.
  • Source a large set of teeth.
  • Prepare tactile or large print diagrams to show the structure and cross section of a tooth, using a variety of textures. 
  • As a class, construct a giant sized model of a mouth with egg box teeth, containing some foil for fillings and a tongue made from chicken wire covered in paper-mache.
 

Light and Shadow

  • Make vocabulary flash cards and prepare the adapted text to go with the topic ready for the child to learn and use with peers.
 

Creating shadows

  • Create a dark corner of the classroom with black fabric and a staple gun.
  • Shine a bright torch through transparent materials and objects to discover the opaque ones don’t let light through.
  • Use a projector shining on white cloth or card and create a shadow with a puppet, or a clearly defined object. 
  • The child may be able to see where the shadow falls, even if they are not able to make out its shape.
  • Project light onto a large sheet of card and draw around the shadow. Cut out the shadow for the child to feel around.
  • Move the light source or object closer and further away and each time cut out the shadow shapes for the child to compare the sizes and shapes.
  • To investigate how shadows of objects in sunlight change over the course of the day, lengths of string can be used to measure and to record how long the shadow is.
  • Black sugar paper shadows drawn of the child throughout the day, model how much taller they are at the beginning and end of each day and how much shorter they are in the middle of the day.
  • A tactile globe can be used to investigate and explain whether it is the sun or the earth that moves during the day to create the shadows. 
 

Sounds

Exploring vibrations

drum
  • Use rice, peas, beads on a drum. The size of the drum and strength of the hit will create different movements. 
  • Child can hold hand just above the drum to feel the sensation of the rice or peas hitting their hand. 
  • Sound traveling through solid. 
  • Rest an ear on a table or wall to hear and feel vibrations travel through a solid.
  • Use different sizes of table, made with various materials and bang on them with various objects.
  • Rest an ear on the wall to help understanding of spatial awareness, the child may not have realized that there is another room on the other side of the wall.
 

Sound traveling through air

  • Use a bell, whistle or maraca in an open space at various distances from the child. This reinforces understanding of distance as well as sound travel.
  • Pitch experiments
  • Use tuning forks.
  • Twang a ruler on the edge of the desk.
  • Pluck strings, change pitch of drums. Allow child to carry out the experiment as well as experience the vibrations.
 

Plastic cup and string telephone experiment

  • Make sure child and other person are in separate rooms, otherwise child may assume they are hearing the voice normally.
  • This experiment links sound with spatial and distance awareness.
 
 
tips for creating access to science collage