Exploring Scientific Ideas in Informal Settings: Activities for Individuals with Visual Impairments

Anjli Kumar, Lauren A. McCarthy, Sarah M. Rehn, Dayne F. Swearer, Ryan N. Newell, Sofia Gereta, Eduardo Villarreal, Sadegh Yazdi, Emilie Ringe*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Four new modules for the scientific education of individuals with visual disabilities are reported. Designed for informal settings, the modules are safe and inexpensive and last 10-15 min each. The module entitled The Sound and Feel of Data represents axes and data points with pipe cleaners and coins, respectively, allowing for a discussion of data presentation and trends without reliance on visual signals. The Conductivity of Materials module tactilely introduces concepts of electron flow in metallic, semiconducting, and insulating materials using marbles, followed by a sound volume representation of the conductivity of everyday objects. The Optical Lenses module uses rope segments secured to a corkboard to trace tactile ray diagrams representing the concept of focusing, diverging, and aberration in optical lenses. Finally, the Chemistry and Physics of Heat module uses the dissolution of ammonium nitrate and sodium sulfate in sealed plastic tubes as well as the crystallization of sodium acetate to describe endothermic and exothermic processes. The modules were tested during an event attended by 38 participants with visual impairments; answers to learning assessment questions as well as pre- and post-module surveys suggest that we were successful at introducing scientific concepts and generating interest in science. This work provides new ways to introduce science that are applicable to all learners, visually impaired or not.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)593-597
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Chemical Education
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 10 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • Aqueous Solution Chemistry
  • General Public
  • Hands-On Learning/Manipulatives
  • High School/Introductory Chemistry
  • Materials Science
  • Physical Chemistry
  • Precipitation/Solubility
  • Public Understanding/Outreach
  • Solids

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Chemistry
  • Education


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