Educator Features

Leveling the Playing Field
A visually impaired student is tracing a pizza with her hands
Scientific principles are challenging to understand, and even more challenging when you can't see what the teacher's talking about. Up until recently, visually impaired students struggled to keep up with others when it came to science concepts. Now it's different. Now there are teaching and learning materials specifically designed to meet the needs of visually impaired students.

Image to left: Tracing the Origins of Pizza Ingredients is a hands-on science unit for visually impaired students. Credit: NASA

Adapted Curriculum Enhancement creates science materials for teachers of visually impaired students, including teacher guides, student activities, texts and instructions for using tactile materials. The Evolving Universe is a series of units with lessons like "The Spongy Universe," "Tracing the Origins of Pizza Ingredients" and "Our Dynamic Universe." Teachers will have no problem engaging students' interest in learning more, and by the time students have completed the series of activities, they'll have used visualization techniques, manipulatives and tactile graphics. Lessons address National Science Education Standards including Science as Inquiry, Physical Science, Science and Technology, History and Nature of Science, and Earth and Space Science.

A blind child walking through the hall at a school
Image to right: Adapted Curriculum Enhancement (ACE) units are helping visually impaired students enjoy science lessons. Credit: NASA

This ACE project is funded by NASA's Initiative to Develop Education through Astronomy and Space Science grant program that teams educators with scientists. The IDEAS program is part of NASA's Science Mission Directorate Education and Public Outreach Strategy, with the goal of improving science, mathematics and technology education, as well as science literacy in the United States. Mid-continent Research for Education and Learning, the Colorado School for the Deaf and Blind, and Tactile Learning Adventure worked closely with scientists from NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory and the Los Alamos National Laboratory to bring the work of top scientists into learning opportunities.

Field testing for The Evolving Universe is still ongoing. Any science teacher interested in helping with the tests before May 1, 2005, can contact Donna Bogner at

Maggie Griffin/NASA Education Technology Services