Janja Plazar, Ph.D at the University of Primorska
Tactile science education (TSE) for visually impaired children:
The life cycle of the brimstone butterfly
In this session, you will learn how you can use tactile science education tools in your education and how it can be beneficial for all children in your class. How a combination of tactile physical model and picture book induces synergistic learning.
Implementing science education in early childhood takes advantage of a child’s disposition to learn about natural phenomena and is of great importance to a child’s development, supporting inquiry skills and development of scientific concepts. However, in the past science education for visually impaired children remained often inaccessible and neglected. Visually impaired children perceive the world predominantly through the other non-visual senses, implicating that enhancing their knowledge, requires adjusting the scientific experiments and modification of the educational tools, emphasizing the sense of touch.
Janja have carried out a study where the life cycle of the brimstone butterfly and its habitat was presented in two forms: of a physical model and a tactile picture book. The model contained removable elements of the individual stages of the butterfly’s life development cycle. The tactile picture book contained the consecutive stages of the butterfly’s life cycle through tactile images, and it included practical exercises about its habitat.
The students were divided in two different groups; visually impaired students and fully-sighted students. Their knowledge about butterflies was tested before and after introducing the modified educational tools. For both children groups, significant increases in both the knowledge and the perception of the addressed topics were found. The results show that all children, both fully-sighted and visually impaired, could benefit from a new generation of modified and adapted science education tools.