Prior to the activity:
- Print both Earth mold and Earth features PDFs for each group, and prepare the materials listed above.
- Ask students what they know about the Earth, and how it looks from space. Tell students they will be making models of the Earth to investigate its different features.
During the activity:
- Put the students in groups of 5 (ideally 3 non-visually impaired to 2 visually impaired).
- Distribute materials accordingly.
- Close supervision is important. Follow each group and explain each of the tactile elements and their correspondence to each object feature.
- Understand the different needs of each group of students to promote interaction between the students during the building of the tactile image – visually impaired students need to be familiarized with the different materials involved.
- Give enough time to follow instructions and build the tactile image.
Print two copies of the 'Earth Mold PDF.'
Cut the outer round shape of the Earth from one of the printed papers.
Place the paper cutout on top of the plastic and draw the outline.
Cut the plastic according to the drawn section.
Apply glue on the surface of the Earth on the other printed paper.
Place the circular plastic cutout on top of the glued area.
Cut the shape of the polar caps on the previously cut 'Earth Mold PDF.'
Place the polar caps on aluminum foil and draw the outline.
Cut the aluminum foil accordingly to the outline.
Glue the aluminum foil (polar caps) on top of the plastic circle previously glued on the paper.
Print the 'Earth Features PDF' and cut the shapes of Earth’s continents.
Place the paper cutout (continents) on top of the thick fabric and draw the outline.
Cut the thick fabric according to the drawn section.
Apply glue on the cutout and paste it accordingly on the paper.
Curl the cotton around the thin wire to produce the hurricane feature.
Curl both textures alike in the size of the round shape of the hurricane.
Apply glue and paste it accordingly on the paper.
Apply glue on the region denoted by a curved line.
Place cotton on top of the glue to produce the clouds.
Wait for the image to dry. This may take a while.
Exploring the tactile image:
There are several ways in which you can explore the scientific content of the tactile schematic images.
If you’re presenting the final tactile image to the students, first let them explore and feel the different textures. Questions will arise as the students explore; encourage them to write their questions down and share them with the other groups. Read “Background Information” to understand the different features present in the Earth’s schematic tactile image, and share with the students as they ask about them, or (if you have more time), prompt each group to choose a feature to learn more about and then have them present to the other groups in the class.
- Water is represented by the plastic texture.
- The continents are represented by the thick fabric.
- The polar caps by aluminum foil.
- The hurricanes are represented by cotton and wire curled up.
- The clouds are represented by cotton.
Discuss the idea of models with the students. Suggested discussion points:
- What is a model? Why is it useful to build models?
- What are the strengths of this model?
- What are the limitations?
- How could the model be improved?
Ask students in their groups to write down two things they learned from the activity, and two things they want to learn more about.