Since 2014, I have been leading the development of a program to teach Astronomy to blind youth. This is enabled by artist renderings, existing scientific data, volumetric capture and ESA + NASA-sourced STL files. The objects include scale models of celestial bodies, satellites, rovers, comets, asteroids, tiles of the surface of Mars, Earth’s Moon and beyond. All these 3D-models can be 3D printed or manipulated in Augmented Reality or Virtual Reality.
With Tactile Astronomy, I have connected digital manufacturing, experiential education and youth to provide a unique and compelling solution to blind youth and inspire more interest in science, technology and math to all learners.
Today in New Zealand, over 12,000 Kiwis are known to have limited vision or are blind. Over 2,500 of these individuals live in Northland and the greater Auckland area; about 60 are children who are enrolled in the only school for the blind for the whole country, BLENNZ Homai Campus in Manurewa, in the greater Auckland area.
Tactile Astronomy abides by the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD)
Traditional resources for people who are blind or have limited vision include:
- audio books,
- large print materials,
- raised braille paper books,
- thermal / embossed paper to assist in explaining basic shapes and figures.
I am certain we can fundamentally augment the learning experience by introducing digital manufacturing (with technologies such as 3D Printing) as a resource to these classrooms, resource centers and, eventually, the homes of blind and limited vision individuals.
Tactile Astronomy is an audacious and ingenious proposition.
I am certain that it will bring a step-change in kinesthetic learning solutions for classrooms across New Zealand and it gives a glimpse to the general consumer of the premise of 3D printing in a friendly way.
The Netflix of 3D-printed lesson plans.
Tactile Astronomy highlights advances in technology and the exponential decrease in cost of 3D printing to reach mass audiences —in this case, an educational setting to augment learning.
It has the potential to usher an era of 3D-printable lesson plans ranging from Meteorology, Anthropology, and Archeology to Architecture, Math, Chemistry, Biology, Physics and beyond.
These materials can be co-curated by teachers and facilitators across the country, enabling rich media experiences and highlighting an underlying technology stack.
One Small Step
The vision we have is to build country-wide awareness of digital manufacturing and how it can reimagine communities. By making 3D printers commonplace in each classroom across New Zealand, the Astronomy lessons can be a proof-of-concept vehicle and also a minimum-viable product. This can become a service offering for lesson plans -and printable objects- where schools can augment interest in STEAM at early ages.
Let’s open outer space for youth who have not traditionally had ways to engage in Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math (STEAM).
Your support will seed the necessary resources for the design, ongoing research and development work for this innovative educational outreach experience for students all across New Zealand.
The project is in its early stages. I believe it provides a compelling innovation and CSR story to it along with potential brand activation for companies.
If you have interest in making this project a reality, please contact me today: me [at] arturopelayo . com
- Product Owner
Arturo Pelayo, Design Lead
Software & Hardware Engineering
Rohan Fletcher, Engineer
Aydan Brown, Engineer
Kathryn Thompson, Engineer
Jaco van der Merwe, Engineer
Chris McClimans, HippieHacker, Engineer
- Project Management
Pauli Sosa, Business Management
- Storytelling + Public Relations & Digital Communications
Emma Roll, Anthropologist
Arturo Pelayo, Instructional Designer
- Design Thinking & Service Design
Baruk Feddabonn, Auckland City Libraries
- Mechanical Design
Cameron Pollard, Mechanical Designer
- Production Methods & Manufacturing Engineering
Nick Gill, Design Engineer (Ultrascope Explorer)
- Materials Research
Pablo Lepe, Nanotechnologist
- Industrial Design
Camilo Calao, Industrial Designer
- Packaging Design
Camilo Calao, Industrial Designer
- Service Design
Alexanda Whitcombe, Industrial Designer
- Rapid Prototyping & 3D Printing
Daniel Dillen, Vivenda CEO.
- Experience Design
Luis Godoy Bacho, Experience Designer
- Manurewa High School
- Disabled Persons Assembly, Ezekiel Robson
- Auckland Museum, Nils Pokel
- Auckland City Libraries
- Auckland City Council
- New Zealand Blind Foundation
- Scribble Auckland
- Blind Education New Zealand (BLENZ)
- Auckland University Of Technology COLAB, Harry Silver
- Stardome Observatory
- Te Papa Tongarewa National Museum
- Catherine and Tim Corbett
- Leanne Gibson
- David Orban
- NASA Ames Research Park, Astronaut Col. Yvonne Cagle
- IAU – International Astronomical Union, Inclusion Workgroup
- Astronomers Without Borders
- Observatorio Astronómico – Universidad de Valencia, Dr. Amelia Ortiz-Gil
- European Space Agency
- Open Space Agency
- Made In Space
- Territory Studio
- Open Desk
- Mad Mex
- Microsoft New Zealand (in-kind tablets, support and cloud services); Regan Murphy.
- 3D Systems (in-kind 3D printers, scanners); Ping Fu & Leanne Gluck.
- MESHED NZ (in-kind technical support, monetary sponsorship for Ultrascope); Jaco van der Merwe.
- 90Seconds.TV (in-kind production and video-based documentation); Mischa Malone.
- BizDojo AKL & GridAKL (in-kind co-working space access ); Anya Merryfield, Eva Perrone & Jonah Merchant.
Tactile Astronomy is a story of human augmentation. It exemplifies what can be done with the power of the internet in a classroom in New Zealand from designs captured from outer space. It proves that, regardless of where you are and who you are, you can be enabled by technology to make your life experience better.
We can grasp within New Zealand —and beyond— incredible country-brand recognition, Our New Zealand Story, and capture the imagination and the power of possibility of a new creative, curious and connected generation for years to come.
I am actively looking for supporters and sponsors. The resources for the project encompass: the design and adaptation of lesson plans, purchasing 3D printers and accessories, printing of parts and building kits out of the parts for lesson plans.
If you would like to support this project, please contact: me @ ArturoPelayo .com
You can make a GST-deductible charitable donation to the project in New Zealand to our following account:
Charity: Disabled Persons Assembly (New Zealand) Incorporated
Bank Account (BNZ): 02-0500-0340204-12 Particulars: Astronomy
New Zealand Charity Registration Number: CC24755
Official Website: http://www.dpa.org.nz
Our contact person (and authorized signatory) is: Ezekiel Robson.