10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 Blast Off! Astronaut CosmoBally has discovered Sonoplanet, a planet full of sounds to be explored! This fully accessible free app is designed to introduce ’emerging sonification literacy’. Sonification is not new: talking graphing calculators along with accessible digital charts and graphs incorporate sonification. (See Exploring Math with Desmos post and Charts and Graphs Sonification post) Sonification is also used for analysis of data, including space data. (See Space-Related Sonification posts on Sonification Summary page) Sonification is commonly used by blind and low vision professionals in STEM careers and by students in higher level STEM classes. Historically, BLV students have been introduced to sonification as they are learning to graph complex math equations with a talking graphing calculator – and understandably, many students find this challenging!
CosmoBally on Sonoplanet is a engaging app designed to introduce basic sonification concepts to young students, providing a foundation for sonification skills. In this app, students learn how to listen attentively, to use sonification to identify types of lines and shapes, to be able to trace lines, to analyze what the sounds depict, and more! As always, students should be introduced to concepts early and build on those basic concepts. Sonokids understands the critical need for young 21st century BLV students to build digital literacy skills and has developed a series of Ballyland apps to support digital literacy. The latest Ballyland app has taken a giant leap forward to address emerging sonification literacy.
Sonification is a technology used to represent information and data, including images using sound. Learn more about sonification and the importance of sonification on the Sonokids website.
Note: Currently, sonification does not have national standards, meaning that different groups/applications will use different sounds or methods to represent different things. Sonfication used in this app is done the “Sonoplanet way”. Other sonification applications may use different sounds and/or methods to convey information. The main goal with introducing sonification to young students is to teach that sounds convey meaning and to teach the basic sonification tech skills – all while playing a fun space-themed game!
One of my favorite things about this app is the story – or in this case, the mission! The setting is deep space and students are on a mission. Instructions are given in the form of a Mission Briefing and the games are designed around the space missions which become progressively more challenging!
There are four types of games:
Can you hear what shapes are hidden on Sonoplanet? This game introduces and explains what the various sounds mean, requiring students to actively listen to determine the type of line or shape.
The Mission briefing provides samples of horizontal lines (lines which are traced left to right and right to left) and samples of vertical lines (lines which are traced top to bottom and bottom to top).
Game Play: Listen to the sounds and answer the yes/no questions (flick up for yes, flick down for no). The game progresses from “Are they the same?” to “Was this a line?” to “Was this a vertical line?”
For students who are blind, may find it helpful to hover their finger above the screen to follow along as the sonification “draws” the shape. (If necessary, provide a tactile drawing of the shape and have the student trace the tactile drawing while listening to the sonification.)
Sonoplanet Game 1 Video:
This game teaches the student how to trace a rectangle using sonification. Remember, a bell sound indicates a corner! In addition to learning to use sonification, I love how students have to actively listen while dragging a finger around the screen and how the student uses a split tap to scoop up the objects. Dragging to explore the screen (or in this case, to trace a sonified line) and split tapping to select are critical tech skills for a student who uses VoiceOver!
Starting from the Base Station, the player will drive the Scooper vehicle in a rectangular route and scoop up objects that are on the route. In this game, the student traces sonified lines in the shape of the rectangle. To trace, the student’s finger drags across the screen, staying on the beeping lines. If the student’s finger drifts off the line, the beeping sounds stop and other sounds (or nothing) will be heard. When the student drags over an object, a split tap (drag to the object and drop the second finger on the screen). When all objects are scooped up, stop tracing. Listen to the sonification as the scooper completes the rectangle route back to Base Station. CosmoBally will inspect what has been scooped up!
For students who are learning to draw in a straight line, support the straight line by finding an anchor (similar to techniques used for reading braille text) or by using the edge of the iPad (with another finger).
Settings in Game 1 (and Game 4) enable the teacher to select the best suitable spoken feedback for their young students.
Sonoplanet Game 2 video:
This game encourages BLV students to be creative by drawing designs and pictures. (See Concept Development: Drawing post) Game 3 enables students to free play with sonification tools and then to review what was drawn. Students love being creative and then having the chance to explore and hear what they created!
The mission is that CosmoBally found a cave with ‘sound-sand’ allowing students to draw and hear what they are drawing then to be able to go back and explore the drawing. This game has a grid on the screen. As the student drags a finger across the screen, the small squares turn from black to yellow (colors can be changed in the game Settings) and the squares are sonified as the student drags across the screen. Once the student is done drawing, pinch to stop drawing and to hear the commands. After pinching, flick right will go to the Toolbox Menu with options to go back to drawing mode, go to tracing current drawing, save current drawing, etc. As with all the Ballyland apps, this app has built-in instructions that walk the student through the various options – perfect for young students who are learning to listen to and follow instructions!
Note: Since the drawing screen is set up as a grid with small squares, drawing diagonal lines or curved lines creates a ragged edge. Meaning, that a circle will not have smooth curves, but rather ragged lines in the general circular shape.
Sonoplanet Game 3 video:
All good space stories include aliens! In Game 4, the goal is to find the hidden aliens by listening to the clues!
This game is more challenging, requiring the player to carefully listen to horizontal and vertical line clues to determine where the alien is hiding in the grid. The easiest level starts with a 2×2 grid. The horizontal clue is first, followed by the vertical clue. A horn sound is used to indicate the half-way point on the line. The half-way point is important when working with bigger grids. With the 2×2 grid:
Note: It does take a bit of practice to successfully find the alien with larger grids! Need help? Go into the Settings for Game 4 and turn on select “Show Salien”. Now an image of the salien will appear on the grid. The other Settings options are Hide/Show Grid and Select Feedback when the Salien is found (sound only, spatial terms, grid terms). I really like the setting options in Game 4, as the game can be used to reinforce positional terms (left, right, etc.) or grid terms (row and column).
Hint: When using 2×3, or 3×3 grids, I found it helpful to slowly move my finger horizontally (during horizontal beeps) starting at the appropriate side (left side if slow beeps start or right side if fast beeps start) to help determine where on the grid I am when the beeps stop. I also move my finger vertically (starting at the top if high beep start or at the bottom if low beeps start). The horn indicates the half-way point. The length (amount of beeps) are important! The larger grids do take some practice to understand and figure out where the alien is – at least for me! I think students figure it out faster than I did!
The developer shared that a 9-year old girl who is blind smashes Game 4, finding the Saliens easily, and challenging herself to keep finding more in the limited time at the highest level!
Sonoplanet Game 4 (2×2 grid) video:
Sonoplanet Game 4, part 2 (2×3 and 3×3 grid) video:
Sonification for young students is cutting-edge and brand new! Sonokids is interested in YOUR feedback on this app and how your students did. Please complete the anonymous Sonoplanet Survey!
Note: CosmoBally on Sonoplanet does not track student play or student progress; the only feedback to support improvements to the game is for you to provide feedback directly to Sonokids or to take the Sonoplanet survey.
This app is free. The development of CosmoBally on Sonoplanet was made possible by a grant from South Pacific Educators in Vision Impairment (SPEVI Inc.).
Note: While the app does work on iPhone and Android smart phones, the limited screen size makes it challenging to play the games. Tablets are recommended! Be sure to check the Menu Tab “For educators – Background” for more supportive information for teachers!
By Diane Brauner