often means “eyes on” as a major portion of laboratory-based science and technical education depends largely on visual observation as reported by Moon, Todd, Morton and Ivey of The Center for Assistive Technology and Environmental Access (2012). According to the National Science Foundation (NSF), Americans with disabilities are underemployed in STEM at higher rates than their nondisabled peers. Moreover, approximately 5% of students with disabilities have the required skills to choose and begin a career in a STEM field (Leddy, 2010). Additionally, numerous challenges are presented in accessible learning during laboratory classes and fieldwork in K-12 science and mathematics courses. In 2012 Dr. Tonja Dandy came to TSB as a catalyst to focus on equity, excellence, and the rigors of STEM education. STEM was her main focus and priority. It was exciting to witness the emphasis placed on STEM, the advancements within the program, and the positive impact it began making with our students. “I am privileged to direct a team of TSB teachers who are enthusiastic about moving forward in STEM education. The vision needs of each student will be accommodated to provide exposure to adaptive scientific equipment. This exposure will facilitate students’ access to the same instruction, laboratory coursework, engineering design, and problem-solving practices their sighted peers receive from general education programs,” said Dr. Dandy. She went on to say, “It is our goal that TSB is a leader among TVIs across the state of Tennessee in completely integrating visually impaired students in all the things STEM. We feel that our students are completely capable of learning everything their sighted peers are working on, and it is our job to create an opportunity for educational advancement in these areas for the visually impaired student population”. Nationally, STEM education is supported by Common Core Standards (CCS) for mathematics and literacy, and with the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). The Next Generation Science Standards include standards for engineering content and practice taught to students in grades K-12. TSB is among the leading schools for the blind to embrace CCSS and NGSS school-wide (along with TN state science standards). STEM education is alive and filled with activity at Tennessee School for the Blind!
At one time we all had to suffer through those dull subject matter lectures. Science is found everywhere in our lives and is much more fun if you look for it. Something that we have to do every day is preparing meals. Cooking is simply chemistry. When frying eggs, we can see what happens when proteins are heated and stressed. Baking demonstrates chemical changes. A salad is an example of a mixture. Eating nutritious meals and snacks is applying good health knowledge and besides, it’s good for us, too. Did you know that squeezing toothpaste out of the tube is applying Pascal’s principle? Understanding Newton’s laws of motion improve sports skills. We find simple machines everywhere from doorknobs to kitchen utensils to the tool in the toolbox.
Have you listened to the news lately? Biology in the forms of forensic science, ecology, pathology, and genetics is part of many of the breaking news stories. A great way to relax is in front of the TV. While sitting there, letting the TV entertain you, check out these channels: Discovery, Animal Planet, National Geographic Channel, and Discovery Science. All of these have programs from many scientific disciplines and the programming is not that old boring lecture stuff.
Don’t forget the internet. Some good sources of sites in science are the TV channels listed above, publishers of science textbooks such as Glencoe.com, authors such as millerandlevine.com, government organizations such as NASA, Tennessee Energy Commission, and science suppliers such as Flinn Scientific. Science is everywhere in our lives. It is the basis of many of our daily activities. Frankly, we just could not exist without it. So just relax, and enjoy science!
The Tennessee School for the Blind offers a full and diversified mathematics curriculum for the students we serve. Print students are provided special dark-line paper, special graph paper, pencils, ballpoint pens, felt-tip pens, and calculators with large displays. Braille students are provided Braille paper (notebook and extra-wide), Braillewriters, Braillelites, and talking calculators. The mathematics curriculum for the high school student offers a choice of vocational or academic path. The academic path for those planning to attend college and the vocational path for those planning to work or receive vocational training. The mathematics program is hands-on training (as any skill related training must be) where raised-line graphs and diagrams, as well as, two-dimensional and three-dimensional models are utilized as needed.