Tactile Explorations of Extrasolar Objects: Science Central
This tabletop activity by Science Central uses 3D printed representations of objects beyond the Solar System to give participants a sense of the scale of extrasolar objects and allow participants with low vision or tactile learning styles to have the opportunity to learn more about astronomy. The activity also includes discussion about how people on Earth study distant objects in space. Printed objects include black holes, nebulae, the Hubble Space Telescope, and the Webb Space Telescope.
This program model was developed by Science Central in Fort Wayne, Indiana.
This program was intended to give participants with low vision or tactile learning styles a chance to join in an astronomy activity. Astronomy has long been a highly visual field of study, and with this tabletop activity had the goal of making astronomy more accessible to all visitors. Another goal of this program was to illustrate the scale of various extrasolar objects, which is often new information for people of all ages.
Emphasize the scale of the objects that are being discussed. Many members of the public do not have a full understanding of the different sizes of stars and black holes, for example. Being able to touch and hold scale representations of these objects can provoke interest and wonder among people of all ages and encourage further learning.
Individuals with low vision and those who learn best through tactile means are the target audience for this program. However, it is open to everyone that wishes to participate, and the subject has a wide enough appeal to encourage engagement from people of all ages who are not necessarily in the target audience group.