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Study uses candy-like models to make STEM accessible for students with visual impairments



The Baylor study used a candy-like model to make STEM accessible to visually impaired students.

3D candy-like models are created by creating molds and adding gelatin to the molds. Credit: Baylor University.

Approximately 36 million people are blind, including 1

million children. Additionally, 216 million have moderate to severe visual impairment. However, STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) education still uses 3D for educational purposes. This image is largely inaccessible to blind students. A groundbreaking study by Brian Shaw, PhD, professor of chemistry and biochemistry at Baylor University. The goal is to make science more accessible to people who are blind or visually impaired with tiny, candy-like models.

The Baylor-led study, published May 28 in the journal scientific progress Use a millimeter-sized gelatin model. which is similar to gummy bear to improve vision of protein molecules using oral dementia or visualization of 3D shapes through the tongue and lips The goal of this study is to create a smaller, more practical 3D model that visualizes protein molecules. Protein molecules were chosen because their structure was some of the most numerous, complex, and high-resolution 3D images presented throughout the STEM study.

“Your tongue is your best tactile sensor—about twice as fast as your fingertips—but it’s also a hydrostat. similar to squid arms It can glide into grooves your fingers won’t touch. But no one really uses their tongue. or lips to learn by touch We thought of creating a very small, high resolution 3D model. and paint with your mouth,” Shaw said.

A total of 396 participants, including 31 4th and 5th graders, as well as 365 students, tested mouth, hands and eyes in the study to identify specific structures. All students were blindfolded during the oral and hand touch tests.

Each participant was given three minutes to assess or visualize the structure of the proteins in the study with their fingertips. followed by another minute with a protein test. after four minutes They were asked whether the test proteins were the same or a different model than the proteins in the first study. The whole process was repeated using the mouth to distinguish shapes instead of fingers.

Students memorize structures by mouth with an accuracy of 85.59%, similar to visual recognition using computer animation. The tests involved an edible gelatin model and a 3D-printed model that was not edible. The gelatin model was correctly identified at a rate comparable to that of the non-edible model.

The Baylor study used a candy-like model to make STEM accessible to visually impaired students.

A millimeter-sized gelatin model of complex protein molecules compared to a small candy. Credit: Baylor University.

“You can visualize the shape of a small object. These were precisely by mouth and by sight. Which is really surprising,” Shaw said.

Various models can be used for visually impaired or non-visually impaired students. Offers a cost-effective, portable, and more accessible solution to 3D images. The study method isn’t limited to molecular models of protein structures—oral visualization can be done with any 3D model, Shaw said.

Additionally, while the gelatin model was the only edible model tested, Shaw’s team created high-resolution models from other materials. edible including toffee and chocolate Some surface characteristics of the model, such as positively charged and negatively charged proteins form the surface. can be represented using different flavor variations in the model

“This approach can be applied to images and models of anything such as cells, organelles, 3D surfaces in math or 3D art. 3D rendering is not limited to STEM but is also useful for humanities,” says Katelyn Baumer, PhD. Candidate and lead author of the study

Shaw’s lab sees oral visualization through a small model. It is a helpful addition to the multi-sensory learning tools available to students. especially those with special visual needs. A similar model in this study could make STEM more accessible for blind or visually impaired students.

“Blind students are systematically excluded from most chemistry and STEM classes. Just look around our lab and you’ll see why—there’s braille on the elevator button up to the lab. and braille on the door of the lab That’s the end of access. Baylor is the perfect place to start making STEM more accessible. Baylor could become an oasis for people with disabilities to learn STEM,” Shaw said.

Shaw is not new to high-level research related to visual impairment. He is recognized for his work on the app, White Eye Detector Shaw, and Greg Hamerly, Ph.D., associate professor of computer science at Baylor, has created a mobile app that serves as a tool for parents to learn how to use it. Check for eye disease in children Shaw’s inspiration for the app came after his son Noah was diagnosed with retinoblastoma at the age of four months.


Visually impaired individuals are able to ‘see’ through devices that turn digital images into physical sensations.


More information:
Katelyn M. Baumer et al, Oral 3D visualization using a candy-like model. scientific progress (2021). doi:10.1126/sciadv.abh0691

Provided by Baylor University



reference: Study Uses the Candy Model to Make STEM Accessible for Visually Impaired Students (2021, May 28). Retrieved May 29, 2021 from https://phys.org/news/2021-05-candy-like- stem-accessible-visually- impaired.html

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