Braille Monitor                                                                          January 2006

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NFB-Jernigan Institute Launches NASA Braille Book, Touch The Sun

Two men stand in front of the display as a group of children check it out.
Scientific consultants for the book, Dr. Steele Hill (left) and Dr. Joseph Gurman, with SOHO display board behind them, explain the details of the SOHO satellite model to aspiring blind scientists.

On December 2 the National Federation of the Blind Jernigan Institute helped launch an exciting new print/Braille book called Touch the Sun, by astronomy educator Noreen Grice. As in her previous book, Touch the Universe, Grice innovatively pairs breathtaking color photographs with tactile renderings of the images. With words and full-color tactile pictures, Grice conveys the dynamic nature of our closest star.

St. Lucy Day School kids.
Smartly dressed in school uniforms, students from St. Lucy Day School for Children with Visual Impairments in Pennsylvania made a special effort to join us for the Touch the Sun book release.

Visually impaired astronomers, amateur and expert, will delight in the chance to explore the cosmos. Dr. Joseph Gurman and Dr. Steele Hill of the Solar Physics Department at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, served as scientific consultants for this book.

As part of the NFB’s National Center for Blind Youth in Science initiative, we hosted the book launch in Members Hall. The event was attended by 150 people, including students, teachers, parents, Federation members, NASA personnel, and volunteers from both the Maryland Science Center and the Maryland State Library for the Blind. About fifty of the participants were students from Maryland, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Virginia.

Mary Jo helps a young girl with her activity.
Jernigan Institute Education Program Specialist Mary Jo Thorpe helps out at the Interior Solar Layers activity table.

The students got to know more about the sun through interactive activities like building a model of the layers of the sun, simulating a coronal mass ejection, and examining a scale model of the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO) satellite with NASA scientists. Guests then took their seats for the formal part of the program. A number of speakers addressed the crowd during the program moderated by the Institute’s Director of Education Mark Riccobono. President Maurer talked about the importance of the work being done through the partnership between the NFB and NASA and introduced Ms. Angela Diaz, associate administrator for education at NASA headquarters. Ms. Diaz reconfirmed NASA’s commitment to expanding opportunities for blind youth.

Three people stand together holding a rope for a demonstration.
Kit Bloom (left), children’s librarian for the Maryland Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped, teams up with Maryland Science Center volunteer Rich Stein to show Chelsea Cook a simulation of a coronal mass ejection.

The audience also heard from the publisher of Touch the Sun, the Joseph Henry Press, and the book’s author, Noreen Grice. The last speaker was Skip Barker, chairman of VIEW International Foundation, a new nonprofit that has committed to publishing one hundred new accessible books in the area of science, technology, engineering, and math. Each student present then received a free copy of the book, which will be distributed by VIEW International Foundation in collaboration with the NFB National Center for Blind Youth in Science. To wrap up the program, the audience heard an a cappella performance of “Sun” by The Chromatics.

Kids sit around a table and examine the new book.
Maryland School for the Blind students check out the way solar activity creates magnetic fields.

For purchase information go to <www.nap.edu> or call (888) 624-7645 or (202) 334-3313.

 

 

 

 

Members Hall full of kids and adults.
Angela Diaz (left), associate administrator for education at NASA headquarters, reviews her speech notes while Stephen Mautner, executive editor at the Joseph Henry Press, listens to the speaker.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The book cart is crammed with copies of Noreen Grice's new book.
Following the book unveiling, Skip Barker (left), VIEW International Foundation chairman; Noreen Grice, author and president of You Can Do Astronomy, LLC; and NFB President Marc Maurer stand by the crammed library book cart, each proudly holding a copy of Touch the Sun.

 

 

 

Noreen Grice and Chelsea Cook pose for a picture.
Book author Noreen Grice (left) took time to sign books for the children. Chelsea Cook happily accepts her signed copy from Ms. Grice.

 

 

 

 

The Chromatics on stage
The Chromatics, a six-member a cappella group of scientists and other science professionals, took the stage to sing a cleverly written song about science from their CD titled AstroCappella.