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Saturday, July 18, 2015

Museum adds models for visually impaired

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Jacqueline Devine reports, "New way to learn: Space history museum introduces small-scale replicas of craft, meteors."

New Mexico School for the Blind and Visually Impaired campers Kaden Calahan, 15, and Marisa Pierce, 12, use braille to interpret photographs from space at the New Mexico Museum of Space History Thursday morning. (photos by Jacqueline Devine — Daily News)

Having five senses is something most people take for granted, but for the blind and visually impaired lacking the sense of vision is what keeps them from really understanding the world and beyond. It's why the New Mexico Museum of Space History has begun introducing small scale models and replicas of spacecraft, rockets and meteors to help them visualize the magnitude of the universe.

The New Mexico School for the Blind and Visually Impaired hosted a week long camp for visually impaired students from across the state to learn important life skills and astronomy among many other activities.
NMSBVI science teacher Jeffery Killebrew said the campers traveled from Clovis, Gallup, Albuquerque and Santa Fe to participate. 

"We've been doing other activities this week and we ended it with a fun trip to the space museum so they can experience things they have not been able to experience before. They got to hear and feel models that helped them learn about astronomy," Killebrew said. "The activities we offered involved science, math, assisted technology, mobility and life skills. We split them up during the day and students got to experience certain learning environments. They cooked their own meals, and for some it was the first time they've been able to cook by themselves."

He said the models help students understand space better because it was concrete and not abstract, learning by touching and hearing helps them conceptualize how big the universe really is.

"We can talk about size but to a visually impaired person who has never experienced sight before in life, distance and length is very arbitrary. Being able to see the down scale size of the models lets them see the different size differentials," Killebrew said. "The 3-D models of the Eta Carinae was really cool for the students because they got to be able to feel something that's in outer space and a representation of that is great."
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Source: Alamogordo Daily News