Linda J. McCarty
National Federation of the Blind, Baltimore
(Phone: 410/659-9314, ext. 2220)
July 21, 2004
NASA Helps Bring Space And Science To Blind Students
NASA is making available its resources and facilities as part of a program to provide the first-ever science camp for blind middle- and high-school students from all over the United States.
Created by the National Federation of the Blind (NFB), Baltimore, the weeklong science camp for middle school students began this week. A second weeklong session for high school students will take place in August. The camp will expose students to the excitement of science in real-life applications and career possibilities with the Vision for Space Exploration.
The Vision calls for NASA to finish building the International Space Station, develop a new space vehicle to replace the Space Shuttle, return to the Moon and eventually send astronauts to Mars and worlds beyond.
"NASA's goal is to inspire the next generation of space explorers and to encourage them to follow the stars, regardless of their race, creed or physical abilities. This experience will shatter the myth that challenging sciences are too dangerous for blind youth," said Dr. Adena Williams Loston, Chief Education Officer, NASA Headquarters, Washington. "The use of NASA facilities and personal interaction with the agency's blind scientists and engineers will allow these students to build confidence in performing challenging science activities from which they generally are excluded in public schools," she said.
Activities will include classroom projects that focus on the connection between life and ecosystems. Students will also visit NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md., and other scientific organizations and museums in the Washington area. During the second session, students will develop, build and launch a 12-foot rocket at NASA's Wallops Space Flight Facility, Va
"Generations of blind youth have been discouraged from pursuing scientific careers by well-meaning parents and educators who falsely believed that only the sighted could fully appreciate the wonders of the universe and the extraordinary diversity of life on this planet," said Marc Maurer, President of the NFB. "The NFB is committed to breaking down artificial barriers to knowledge by developing educational programs and tactile teaching tools that will ensure that no blind student is ever again denied the opportunity to experience the full range of scientific learning and pursue career dreams to their fullest potential," he said.
NASA currently is adapting its educational materials for blind students. One recent project is the book "Touch the Universe: A NASA BraiIle Book of Astronomy." The book features stunning imagery taken by NASA's Hubble Space Telescope. Through tactile illustrations of stars, planets and heavenly bodies, blind students can touch the universe and experience its beauty for the first time. NASA's Johnson Space Center, Houston is also working on computer software that will enable blind students to track the progress of rocket launches through sound.
The science camps are free and made possible by funding and support from NASA; the NFB; Lockheed Martin Foundation, Bethesda, Md.; Maryland Space Grant Consortium Baltimore; Southeast Regional Clearinghouse, Charleston, SC; and the Maryland Science Center, Baltimore.
For more information on NASA Educational programs, visit the Internet:
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