The image is a Hubble Space Telescope image of a spiral galaxy.

Preparing for Middle School Physical, Earth and Space Science

This blog includes practical advice including adapted materials necessary for the TVI working with a student in middle school science.

By Laura Hospitál

This post is designed to give practical ideas for the TVI with a student in a middle school science class focusing on physical science and earth/space science.  This course is offered in 8th grade in most of Texas, but may differ as to the grade level in other states.

Products to Purchase

I recommend buying these items in the spring if possible, in preparation for a class the following fall.

From APH (Available with Quota Funds)

  1. APH Earth Science Tactile Graphics
  2. AZER’s Interactive Periodic Table Study Set
  3. Extra Guidebook to the AZER set for the Middle School Science teacher
  4. APH Basic Science Tactile Graphics
  5. APH Astronomy Kit
  6. An extra guidebook for the Astronomy Kit from APH for the teacher
  7. Download the Guidebook for the Basic Science Tactile Graphics kit for the teacher from the APH Website.

Purchase from Sources Other than APH (or from APH, but NOT available on Quota Funds)

Accessible Apps

Elementor appPeriodic Table Elementor App 

This app was designed by an incredible student from California, Hari Bhimaraju.  Some of the concepts on these apps are above the middle school level, but they are nonetheless very helpful for information on basic atomic structure in an accessible format including sound and visual modalities.  This app will be appropriate if your student has access to apps on his/her device.

Optional Materials – motivational and fun!

  1. Reach for the Stars iBook for use with an iPad.  This product is used with overlays to provide tactile feedback for the student.  The only cost of the product is $25.00 for the overlays.  The iBook is a free download.  Please see a review of the product for more information.
  2. Touch the Universe – A NASA product which contains amazing Hubble Telescope images as tactile graphics.

Preparation for the TVI to do: 

  1. Read over the descriptions of the products you are purchasing on this site to familiarize yourself with them.
  2. Give the science teacher copies of the guidebooks for the APH Astronomy Kit , Basic Science Tactile Graphics , and the AZER Periodic Table Set during prep week or the spring prior, if possible.
  3. Refer him/her to the following blog written by Kate Fraser for science teachers unfamiliar with teaching students with visual impairment: Back to School with a Student with Visual Impairments 
  4. Read over the above guidebook yourself at the beginning of the year to familiarize yourself with what is contained in each set.
  5. Make adaptations to the Periodic Table using Wikki Stix to make it easier for braille students to use the table.  The following links describe how to do so:
  6. Watch the following 2 short videos (approximately 5 minutes each) by Greg Williams, a chemist who is blind, in order to become more comfortable with organizing and setting up the lab environment for a student who is visually impaired:

As the school year begins: 

  1. Meet with the teacher and discuss when each of the adapted products will be be needed.  Use the teacher’s syllabus for the year if possible.   Make sure that the adapted materials needed for the beginning of the year are left with the teacher and that he/she understands them.
  2. If possible, leave all the materials for the year with the teacher or plan to deliver them at least two weeks prior to instruction on related content.  Definitely leave the guidebooks for the Sense of Science Astronomy Kit, the AZER kit, and the Basic Science Tactile Graphics.
  3. Schedule a meeting with the teacher at the point in time (according to the syllabus) when content is to go from physical science to earth/space or vice versa.  The order of instruction in classes may differ, but the important thing is to meet and discuss which new materials are needed at this junction and field questions that the teacher may have about the adapted materials.

Additional Resources: 

Pinterest collage for middle school science

Return to Accessible Science main page.

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