Orofino High School: A Promising Practice for Hands-On Science for Everyone

Date Updated

Kellie Rhodes, a high school science teacher from Orofino High School in Orofino, Idaho, strives to make her labs accessible to all students. With the support of lab equipment obtained through funding from an AccessSTEM Minigrant, students with and without disabilities are finding science in Ms. Rhodes' class to be more hands-on.

Ms. Rhodes purchased an adjustable height lab table, a Video Flex attachment for her microscope, plastic beakers and graduated cylinders, and break resistant glass beakers with her minigrant. The flexible height table is used by students who use wheelchairs or have difficulty balancing on lab stools. The plastic "glassware" is used by students who might have difficulty with grip or balance and, therefore, be timid about using fragile glassware. The video microscope is used by students with visual impairments, who need even greater magnification. Ms. Rhodes also uses the video microscope for large group instruction, allowing multiple students to see an image simultaneously.

Ms. Rhodes' integration of accessible lab equipment into her science class is a promising practice in creating a universally designed science environment. Ms. Rhodes reports that with the new accessible equipment, students with disabilities have gained confidence in the lab as their participation has been enhanced. An accessible science class has not only increased the students' hands-on opportunities but has also encouraged social integration, as students want to partner with the students who are using the "cool" equipment.

For resources and information on accommodating students with disabilities in science labs, consult the DO-IT publication, Working Together: Science Teachers and Students with Disabilities and/or view the video by the same title. You may also wish to consult the presentation materials Accommodating Students with Disabilities in Math and Science Classes.

AccessSTEM mingrants were funded under The Alliance for Students with Disabilities in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (AccessSTEM, Research in Disabilities Education award # HRD-0227995).