The goal of our project is to offer blind and visually impaired students and their teachers a new approach to learning about complex STEM topics in a creative way. One of the main activities is the creation of audio booklets. These audio booklets address various scientific topics that are taught in science classes in general high schools, such as the Sun, Earth's magnetic field, Moon exploration, and more.
This project wants to highlight the importance of space weather, as it influences nearly every aspect of our modern life ranging from banking, navigation, and telecommunications to a power supply. It is an interdisciplinary subject and therefore ideal for explaining complex scientific topics to students while at the same time teaching them space- and geosciences.
To ensure that all the interesting topics are also envisioned through touch, we share several 3D models for print and various tactile images that provide hands-on activities to complement the audio booklets.
All materials are provided for free, and anyone can download the audio booklets, templates for the tactile images, and 3D models for printing. Video instructions should help you to make your own tactile images, so you can surprise your blind or visually impaired friend and share with her/him your fascination by Earth and space.
Within the project, we organize various workshops: either for blind & visually impaired students about space weather, using the tactile images, or for non-B&VI students who help to create the tactile images. These tactile images, together with 3D printed models and a USB with all audio booklets, will be later sent to Belgian schools for B&VI students in the form of
A Touch Of Space Weather Boxes.
You can follow our activity through our Facebook page.
This project was awarded an EGU Public Engagement Grant in 2021. The EGU Public Engagement Grant is covering the physical costs of creating ‘A Touch of Space Weather’ boxes that will be distributed to the schools and organizations that are providing education to B&VI people. Each box will include material for the main Space weather tactile image, one USB stick with all audio booklets, assignments for students, and 3D printed models to accompany audio booklets.
The work behind the project, from the development of the materials to the recording of the audio booklets, is financed by the Royal Belgian Institute for Space Aeronomy (BIRA-IASB), our home institute.
To make this project work, we are happy to be surrounded by many enthusiastic people who provide their expertise, ideas and feedback.
BIRA-IASB is not only the institute that provides financial support, but it is the workplace of our scientific and outreach team! The project lead is Lenka Zychova who with her colleagues Norma Crosby, Mark Dierckxsens, and Stijn Calders form the scientific team. Karolien Lefever is the expert from the outreach and communication cell and helps with all organizational and creative work. Pieter Bogaert is our master of 3D printing. Our colleagues Antoine Calegaro, Massamba Sall, Sami Mezhoud, and Sophie Chabanski gladly help with workshops for children.
De Kade, with Kris Paschen as the representative, is our closest group of teachers and B&VI students who provide us with their feedback on the educational material and immense support to understand what are the challenges for blind and visually impaired people.
We are truly grateful to have all in our team!