Taking a chemistry class typically involves using your eyesight – noticing color changes in a test tube, or making drawings to describe the structure of a molecule, for example.
For many blind students, the apparent visual requirements can put chemistry out of reach. Teachers often don’t believe it’s possible to succeed in the subject without vision. But a new program developed in partnership with Baylor University chemistry professor Bryan Shaw aims to open up what’s been called “the central science” to more people with blindness or visual impairment, whether they’re fulfilling a high school requirement or planning for a career in science.
On a warm Tuesday in Waco, eight high school students donned lab coats, safety goggles and gloves, ready to enter a Baylor chemistry lab. They were there to learn about how the lab does science. But more importantly, they were about to feel how that science is done – using their own hands.
The students from around the state are participants in a program from the Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired. These short-term programs give full-time TSBVI students – as well as kids who attend other schools around the state – opportunities to have educational experiences that are normally unavailable to them.