Science

A group of students explore a shoreline on Vancouver Island.

Through science education, students come to better understand their natural world. Using a hands-on approach to instruction, the curriculum supports learning in biology, chemistry, physics, and earth, space, and environmental sciences.

In addition to content knowledge, the BC K-12 Science Curriculum encourages students to ask questions, work collaboratively, test hypotheses and use data analysis and critical thinking skills to guide meaningful decision-making processes that impact their lives.

On this page:

Check out the Science Curriculum category in #Outreaching - the blog of the PRCVI Outreach Team.

Science Curriculum - Students with Visual Impairments

Research with samples of students visual impairments has found that these learners may hold unique misconceptions of scientific concepts when compared with those held by their peers with typical vision (Wild & Koehler, 2017). These misconceptions may result from reduced opportunities for incidental learning resulting from complete or partial visual impairment. The teacher of students with visual impairments works with classroom and subject-area teachers to ensure meaningful adaptations to materials, models, equipment and to pre-teach any science skills needed for successful inclusion in lessons and labs. Students with visual impairments will also need more time to both preview and complete inquiry activities such as experiments than peers with typical vision (Supalo, Humphrey, Malouk, Wohlers, & Carlson, 2016).

Examples of Adaptations for Science

  • Interact with 3D models of plant and animal cells and compare the common or unique organelles between each.
  • Spreading tactile shapes representing stars on the floor of the classroom and ask students to make constellations using these shapes and their bodies.
  • Explore large print or braille format periodic tables and brainstorm ways to design a 3D printed version that would be more informative/interactive.

Connections to the Expanded Core Curriculum

Knowledge and skill development in the Core and Expanded Core Curricula are mutually reinforcing and together enrich student learning. Below are examples of connections between Science and the ECC. 

Access Technology Skills

  • Creating accessible PowerPoint presentations of lab reports for sharing findings with peers.
  • Using interactive tools such as the Talking Tactile Tablet to explore graphics, schematics, and cross-section diagrams.
  • Using screen magnification/enhancement and/or screen reading software to communicate findings on an online message board.

Sensory Efficiency Skills

  • Using a variety of low vision devices and technology to examine specimens and models (e.g., a desktop CCTV as a “Magnification Centre” in a primary classroom).
  • Ask a lab partner to describe the teacher’s whole-class demonstrations.
  • Discriminating between texture variances between different areas of a cross-section diagram. 

Compensatory Skills

  • Using modified plastic syringes to deliver specific small volumes during experiments.
  • Creating high-quality print graphics, tactile graphics, or 3D models of content that is displayed on posters in the science lab.
  • Use of a Cranmer abacus to keep a running tally during an experiment. 

Resources to Support Instruction

PRCVI Library Catalogue

American Printing House (2008). Sense of Science series. Louisville, KY: APH. Listed below are the three resource kits available from PRCVI:
Sense of Science – Astronomy
Sense of Science – Plants
Sense of Science - Animals
American Printing House (2008). Azer's interactive periodic table study set. Louisville, KY: APH.
resource to help students understand the periodic table and the elements within. It demonstrates atomic structures, ionic and covalent bonding, and balancing chemical equations.
Engelbrecht, M. & Fraser, K. (2010). Making science accessible. Watertown, MA: Perkins School for the Blind.
Designed to be used with students grades six to nine, it includes dozens of adapted classroom activities that illustrate principles of physics in a tactile way.
Fraser, K. & Zatta, M. C. (2016). Science literacy: A curriculum for all students with sensory impairments. Watertown, MA: Perkins School for the Blind.
Comprehensive curriculum with lesson plans for delivering meaningful and accessible learning opportunities in the sciences.
Hoffmann, R. & Kitchel, E. (2006). Adapting science for students with visual impairments: A handbook for the classroom teacher and teacher of the visually impaired. Louisville, KY: American Printing House
Resource guide designed to be shared with classroom teachers focused on making science instruction accessible.
Science Models in the PRCVI Library Catalogue
The PRCVI Library contains over 100 3D models from diverse areas such as anatomy, genetic, geography, and human sexuality.
Winograd, M., & Rankel, R. A. (2013). Multi-sensory lab gear kit. MDW Educational Services, Inc.
This kit provide examples and suggestions for ways to adapt laboratory equipment for students with visual impairments.

Web-Based Resources

CEC Division on Visual Impairments and Deafblindness (2016). Full STEM Ahead!. Visual Impairment and Deafblind Education Quarterly, 61 (4). 1-161. Available at [.DOC format download]: https://higherlogicdownload.s3.amazonaws.com/SPED/d2199768-679e-41f6-aa2a-e9d3b5b748c8/UploadedImages/VIDBEQ.61.4.2016.Word.docx
Full issue of VIDBEQ devoted to STEM education for visually impaired learners. Topics include space exploration and accessible learning in computer science. 
Fast, D., & Wild, T. (2018). Teaching science through inquiry based field experiences using Orientation and Mobility. Journal of Science Education for Students with Disabilities, 21, 29-39.
Article connecting O&M instruction and science education, including shared concepts such as forces and habitats. 
Fraser, K. (2014). Accessible science: Making life sciences accessible to students with visual impairments. Available at: https://www.perkinselearning.org/videos/webcast/accessible-science-making-life-sciences-accessible-students-visual-impairments
Webcast devoted to making the life sciences meaningful and accessible for visually impaired learners, including those with deafblindness. Topics include multi-sensory teaching, communication & planning, and testing standards. 
National Science Teaching Association. (n.d.). Science for students with disabilities – visual impairment. Accessed at: https://www.nsta.org/disabilities/visual.aspx
General interest resource for science educators without experience working with learners with visual impairments. 
Space Camp for Interested Visually Impaired Students
SCIVIS is a week-long camp for visually impaired students from all over the world, hosted at the US Space and Rocket Center in Huntsville, AL. 
Wedler, H. B., Boyes, L., Davis, R. L., Flynn, D., Franz, A., Hamann, C. S., ... & Tantillo, D. J. (2014). Nobody can see atoms: science camps highlighting approaches for making chemistry accessible to blind and visually impaired students. Journal of Chemical Education, 91, 188-194.
Article providing strategies for making chemistry instruction more accessible drawn from the curricula of three science camps for visually impaired students. 
Wild, T. & Koehler, K. (2008). Teaching science to students with visual impairments. The Ohio State University. Accessed at: https://beyondpenguins.ehe.osu.edu/issue/rocks-and-minerals/teaching-science-to-students-with-visual-impairments
Tips page for making science instruction more accessible for visually impaired learners, including laboratory modifications. 

References

Supalo, C. A., Humphrey, J. R., Mallouk, T. E., Wohlers, H. D., & Carlsen, W. S. (2016). Examining the use of adaptive technologies to increase the hands-on participation of students with blindness or low vision in secondary-school chemistry and physics. Chemistry Education Research and Practice, 17, 1174-1189.

Wild. T. A. & Koehler, K. E. (2017). Chapter 14: Science. In M. C. Holbrook, T, McCarthy, & C. Kamei-Hannan, (Eds.), Foundations of education Volume 2: Instructional strategies for teaching children and youths with visual impairments (3rd Ed.), (pp. 449-478). New York, NY: AFB Press.

 

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