Applied Science - Science and Math (1C)
Lab 

   
OBJECTIVES:
  • Discovering the senses of sight and touch.
  • Experiencing blindness.

VOCABULARY:

  • blind
  • braille
  • sight
  • touch
MATERIALS:
  • Braille Placemat (or books)
  • blindfolds
  • clay or seeds (lentils)

Students experience how to read without sight.

BACKGROUND:

Louis Braille was born on 4th January, 1809 near Paris, France. At three years of age an accident deprived him of his sight, and in 1819 he was sent to the Paris Blind School.  Here he made rapid progress in all his studies. He learned to read by embossed Roman letter, which was exclusively used at the time. 

Louis Braille revised M. Charles Barbier's character to two from 12 dots and thus produced his well-known 3 by 2. On this basis Braille was the first person to devise a  practical scheme for printing and writing in tangible form, suitable to the tactile capacity of blind people  in 1829. 

It is sometimes difficult for young students to realize what it is like to not have all their senses.  This activity helps them to understand how it changes their life if one sense is not working.  If your eyes or the nerves to your brain are damaged you can become blind.  If your ear drum is broken, you may not be able to hear clearly.  If the cells of your nose or your tongue is damaged you will have difficulty smelling and tasting.  If there is something wrong with the nervous system, you might not be able to touch something and feel it.

PROCEDURE:

  1. The objective of this activity is to make students aware of which senses they are using, determine what sense organs are (eyes, skin) and how they might cope if a sense is missing.
      
  2. Lead the children in answering these questions:
  1. What do you use to see with? (eyes)
  2. How many do you have?
  3. Do you need both of them to see?
  4. Is there any difference in what you see with two eyes compared to what you see with one? (You cannot tell distance easily with only one eye.  You must use other clues.)
  5. What do you feel with? (skin)
  6. How do your senses of touching and seeing help protect you?  (You won't bump into things).
  1. Pair the children off.  Have them shut one eye and stick out their forefinger like they    were pointing.  Let them try to touch their partnerís forefinger.  They will probably have  trouble because they have no depth perception with one eye closed.
      
  2. Again in pairs, have them roll a ball gently from one person to the other, trying to catch it with one eye closed.
      
  3. Have each child try to touch his/her own two forefingers together with one eye closed.   One finger will probably pass in front of the other.
      
  4. Take children on a blind walk. (This is best done by one adult while another adult stays inside with the remaining children).  Split the children into small groups--no more than 10 per group. Take children outside.  Pair them off.  One partner is to be "blind" (close his eyes) and one is to be his helper,   always holding one hand.

    NOTE:  Stress safety!!!  The helper is to warn his partner if he/she is about to run into  something.  Both must walk slowly and carefully.

    Lead the children on a short walk in a safe area.  Have the "blind" children feel textures on   the walls, sidewalks, fences, and other objects.  Ask them if they know where they are and  which direction they walked.  If they do know, ask them how they know. (If it is because  they have the area memorized, tell them that this is what blind people do also). Change partners and walk again.
      
  5. Back in the classroom, ask them how they felt and how successful they were at getting around.  Explain that blind people develop better senses of touching and hearing than most people because they have to replace their sight.
      
  6. Show students the BRAILLE PLACEMATS.  Have them practice feeling the different letters.  See if they can pick out the letters in the words.  This will take patience.  You may want to do this over a week's time.  Have the students determine how long it will take to learn just one letter.
      
  7. Use the worksheet and have students put little bits of clay, or have them glue down lentils (a bean) to make their own Braille placemat.

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