The biannual Principals of Schools for the Blind (POSB) Math/Science Institute was held at Perkins School for the Blind April 14th and 15th. Attendance was up from 2 years ago to about 65 participants. What a wonderful opportunity to learn and to share! It was both a great opportunity for collaboration and a lot of fun. Perkins School for the Blind provided a wonderful space at the Grousbeck Center for Students and Technology. Many thanks to Teresa Pagliuca, and Mary Zatta for all of their hard work in organizing the event. We all agreed that our only complaint was that we didn’t have more time together.
Several sessions were held concurrently and I would like to share what I gleaned from the following sessions:
The Use of the Haptics Device:
This session was presented by myself and Stu Grove from Perkins School for the Blind. The Novint Falcon 3D touch controller is a haptics device which allows the user to receive both tactile and kinesthetic feedback. The haptics device is commonly utilized as a game controller. Applications designed by eTouchSciences to work with the Novint Falcon teach math and science concepts to visually impaired students. Several of those attending the session had the opportunity to try the device as the rest of the group observed.
eTouchSciences math apps include Graphing Lines, Mean, Medium, and Mode, Dot Plots, Symmetry of Shapes, Surface Area of a Cube, Surface Area of a Cylinder, Volume of 3-D Shapes, Volume of a Cube, and 3D Dimensional Shapes.
Science apps include Blood Cells, Changing Landscapes, The Circulatory System, Coral Reefs Ecosystem, Desert Ecosystem, Drag, Exploring the Atom, Exploring the Plant Cell, Gravity Holds it all Together, Gravity on the Planets, Our Solar System, and Volcanoes. Please see the review section for more information about the Novint Falcon 3D haptics device and the eTouchSciences apps.
APH Low-Tech Tools for Math and Science with Li Zhou:
Prototypes for several exciting new math and science products were introduced. The AnyMath Kit includes a graph board and a blank board. Labels are placed on the graph board using hook and loop technology (Velcro) The kit is smaller than the traditional APH graphic aid and does not require pins. It fold in two and can be easily stored. I would expect it to be more reasonably priced than the APH graphic aid as well.
The Tactile Compass for Math and Art allows for Venn Diagrams to be easily produced as well as circles.
The Light Reflection and Refraction Kit will allow students with visual impairment to construct diagrams related to light reflection and refraction. Target students for this kit are middle school and high school students.
Kit components include a velcro board, concave and convex lenses, and "mirrors" which can be reversed. These products will be reviewed once they are available for sale.
Learn to Draw, Draw to Learn, with EASY Tactile Graphics Tools and Interactive Exercises for STEM and Math/Science Common Core with Michael Coleman and Josh Coffee:
The InTACT sketchpad is based on the premise that blind and low vision students have missed out on valuable learning opportunities because they have often not had the opportunity to draw as young children. The InTACT sketchpad allows students with visual impairment to interact with their drawings much as sighted children interact with their doodling. Please see a recent post on this product.