Braille Monitor                                            June 2016

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Exploratorium Puts Science at Your Fingertips

Julia Gebert listens to wind tubes at the Exploratorium.

Touch is a magic sense but one that is all too often forbidden, precluded both by instruction and construction. How often do we hear blind children talk about going to the museum with friends or family and finding that there is nothing there for them except what someone will read or verbally try to describe? This very hands-off mentality is one of the barriers that has come between blind people and the sciences, and one of the objectives of our STEM2U program is to tear down this artificial barrier by figuring out creative ways for blind people to enjoy the majesty of science, technology, engineering, and math with all of their remaining senses.

Nick Oliver learns about sound and vibration hands-on at the Exploratorium.

The latest program was held in San Francisco at the Exploratorium, a museum unique for the displays and exhibits that can be touched. Mya Jones, one of the staff members coordinating the project said, "It was amazing to see Caleb as he observed how air can be used to move and set the direction for objects. What makes this museum so unique is that it values hands-on experiences, and our students loved it."

The director of our STEM2U program, Natalie Shaheen, is excited about a museum exhibit that is almost totally accessible for blind people. The exhibit represents a data set showing the tide levels for a year. Each day is represented by a tile with a lid that can be opened. The tide for a day is represented by a stick; the higher the tide, the higher the stick. It is therefore easy to observe the tide from day to day and by opening the lids for multiple days to track the patterns.

Caleb Hyndman learns about how air pressure can levitate a ball.

Andrea Cataquiz and her mother Cecile explore the tide exhibit.

A group of students navigate on a trip to Chinatown.

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