Accessible Internet Based Mathematics and Aeronautics Materials for 4th-7th Grade Children with Physical Disabilities

Article excerpt


Info Use is running a three year project entitled "An Internet-Based Curriculum on Math and Aeronautics for 4th -7th Grade Children with Physical Disabilities" with funding through a cooperative agreement with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). NASA's award, which is administered through the High Performance Computing and Communications (HPCC) Office as part of NASA's Information Infrastructure Technology and Applications (IITA) program and NASA-Ames Research Facility at Moffett Field, was given as one of eight such awards for developing new ways of teaching science, mathematics, engineering, and aeronautics through developing new Internet-based information technologies.

This project will create on-line lessons and activities on math and aeronautics with the aim of improving education and career options for children with physical disabilities. This project proposes to develop a specialized program, drawing from existing curricula, available materials and assistive technology, and using the Internet to support an interactive education experience. The project targets schools nationally with 4th-7th grade students. The on-line lessons and activities will be useful to students in mainstream general education as well as special education settings.

The genesis of this project is based around two issues. The first issue came from an awareness that, around the 4th grade, current mathematics curricula are highly reliant on students' ability to use manipulables such as paper and pencil, calculators, or three-dimensional geometric models. Children with disabilities that affect their ability to manipulate objects (cerebral palsy, muscular dystrophy, specific hand/arm conditions, etc.) and who therefore find it difficult or impossible to use such manipulables are clearly at an academic disadvantage. The second issue came from the realization that physically disabled children may not consider or be prepared for career possibilities in aeronautics or the importance of mathematics in pursuing these careers. The Internet, with its multimedia and communication capabilities, holds great potential for allowing these issues to be addressed.


The stated mission of this project is "To stimulate and motivate students with physical disabilities in grades 4-7 to pursue aeronautics-related careers via the development and delivery of accessible math education materials on the Internet." From this mission, we developed four goals:

1. Accessibility

Improve access to mathematics and aeronautics curricula materials for 4th-7th graders with physical disabilities.

2. Math Proficiency

Improve mathematics proficiency outcomes among 4th-7th grade students with physical disabilities.

3. Aeronautics Careers

Inspire and motivate students with physical disabilities to pursue aeronautics-related careers.

4. Innovative Use of Technology

Increase access to, and use of, digital communication and multimedia technology among children with physical disabilities.


A World Wide Web site that will contain lessons and provide mathematical exercises using examples from aeronautics and that will be maximally accessible by children with physical disabilities. The activities will be based on national mathematics standards and aeronautic content guidelines. The Web site will also contain help information, information for teachers/parents, opportunities for users to find out more about aeronautics from experts/role models, and links to other Web sites. The target age level for year 1 (Phase 1) is 4th grade.


The Internet offers advantages and disadvantages as a medium for providing aeronautics-based math activities. We have re-examined the advantages to provide a rationale for the structure of the activities within this project to guide the design process. …