FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Release Date: 
Monday, July 21, 2008
Category: 
Chris Danielsen
Public Relations Specialist
National Federation of the Blind
(410) 659-9314, extension 2330
(410) 262-1281 (Cell)

National Federation of the Blind Holds Junior Science Academy

Blind Children From Across the Country Will Discover Science In Accessible and Fun Ways

Baltimore, Maryland (July 21, 2008): The National Federation of the Blind (NFB), the nation's leading advocate for blind children and their families, will be offering a Junior Science Academy targeting children in grades three through six.  Through hands-on experiences, tactile materials, and innovative nonvisual teaching methods, the Academy will open its doors to the youngest group of scientific explorers in the history of the NFB Jernigan Institute's National Center for Blind Youth in Science (NCBYS) initiative, which has conducted science programs for blind youth since 2004.  The Academy will be held from July 23-27 at the National Federation of the Blind Jernigan Institute in Baltimore.

The four-day session will expose blind children to the excitement of science in real-life applications.  Students will discover that science can be fun through hands-on instruction, field trips, and interactive activities as they learn about how different aspects of the environment work together to create the world around them. 

"From the unanswered questions about our world to the puzzles of the universe and beyond, we imagine a future where the blind are encouraged and empowered to apply their diverse capabilities to the exploration of new horizons along with their sighted peers.  That is why we, the blind, have committed our Jernigan Institute to improving educational opportunities for blind youth in a way that no one else has ever imagined," said Dr. Marc Maurer, President of the National Federation of the Blind.

Mark Riccobono, executive director of the NFB Jernigan Institute, said, "Blind students are often discouraged from participating in scientific study due to the common and widely-held misconception that science is not accessible to the blind.  The purpose of the Jernigan Institute's National Center for Blind Youth in Science and programs like the Junior Science Academy is to let blind students and teachers know that there are alternative methods that the blind can use in the science classroom, and that materials that are accessible to blind students can be produced or obtained."

The Junior Science Academy will be rooted in the high expectations of the NFB philosophy and will expose participants to a variety of positive experiences. Under the guidance of accomplished blind educators and mentors, students will learn how alternative techniques help make science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) subjects accessible and more engaging.  In addition, follow-up activities will ensure that children and their families stay connected to a variety of resources provided by the National Federation of the Blind, including accessing tools for learning STEM curriculum, acquiring better blindness skills, and interacting with positive blind role models. 

Unique seminars and hands-on workshops for the parents of the participants will take place in conjunction with the children's activities.  These sessions will be designed to help parents better meet the academic and social needs of their children.  Sessions will include such topics as Braille literacy, orientation and mobility, advocacy, and empowerment.  Parents will also be introduced to a variety of beneficial resources available to them and their families.

For more information about the Junior Science Academy, please visit www.blindscience.org.  To learn more about the National Federation of the Blind, please visit www.nfb.org.