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As a sophomore in high school, I think it is safe to say that in some form, multiplication lies at the heart of our everyday lives. We use multiplication in every aspect of our lives, including anywhere from determining how much three apples will cost at the grocery store to finding out how much a 3D printed model of a certain size would cost in terms of the PLA used. What if we could give the next generation a head start in the realm of multiplication, more specifically the visually impaired population?
After brainstorming about the countless challenges that visually impaired children experience, I decided that an educational tool would be a worthwhile and meaningful design. I wanted my design to be both ergonomic and useful to other students that may not be as fortunate as myself. Through multiple iterations and different stages of rethinking, I landed on the idea of creating a tool that teaches and allows visually impaired students to practice the fundamentals of multiplication through braille. However, I knew as much about braille and how to write numbers in braille as a new born kid, so I spent a fair amount of time surfing the web learning as much as possible about braille and the notation it uses. After fully submerging myself in the realm of braille, I decided to take a stab at designing my educational tool!
After some rethinking and tinkering, I had finally come up with a design that functioned as a usable tool that helped visually impaired students learn and practice multiplication. I wanted a tool that was easy to use and also effective at teaching multiplication. My design consisted of four rollers each with ten sides labeled 0-9 in braille notation which were housed in two larger pieces that allowed for the user to spin each roller. The first two rollers are spun randomly and the numbers that they land on are the two numbers that have to be multiplied together (ie. a 5 and a 4 would be 5x4). The two following rollers are manipulated by the student and serve as the answer blocks for the multiplication problem prescribed by the first two rollers(ie. for the above multiplication problem the rollers would read 2 and 0 or 20). This tool could be used during the teaching process as a hands on item that allows visually impaired students to feel it and play with it.
I believe that this simple tool with have a major impact on the way visually impaired students in elementary school learn multiplication. By allowing students who are tangibly inclined to feel and play with this model, I believe that this combination between math and a tangible model will accelerate the students learning and give the future generations of visually impaired students a head start in their math.
Since creating my design, I contacted my local branch of my school board that deals with the education of visually impaired students and they have provided enormous amounts of support and help in perfecting my design. Additionally, after reaching out to my community via our community Facebook page, I have met many individuals in my area who would benefit from such design and I hope to be able to donate this model to a child in elementary school that would benefit from my 3D printed design!!
How To Use:
This multiplication tool is most effectively used while physically teaching the visually impaired students how to multiply and afterwards as a tool to help the children practice their new-found knowledge. Essentially, the first two rollers are spun randomly which gives the child a multiplication problem (ie. a 5 and a 5 would be 5x5) and the last two rollers are for the student to answer the problem (ie. the answer to the previous question would be a 2 and a 5 =25). That's it!
4x Braille Rollers (I used red PLA)
2x Braille Holders (body) (I used white PLA)
1x Glue that will bond the two large Holders together (I used Super Glue)
3 Bottom Layers
.3mm Layer height
-Roller Housing x2 (one left, one right)
6% Infill (to save filament)
3 Bottom Layers
.3mm Layer height
Please feel free to print this design and remix it to fit your needs. If you like this design or have any suggestions please leave me a comment and like this design!