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Livescribe Talking Braille Periodic Table

 Direct link to video:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tumIhZiNiLw Non-captioned version of video: Direct link to video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DQbPr1zqx0k

I revised the original very short version of this post after Dr. Andrew Van Schaack commented so helpfully on it.  I’d like to recommend that you read his comment first (and follow the link he shares there to learn A LOT more), then experience the YouTube video (with or without translatable captions), and then read my post below. Last summer at NECC (2009) I was honored to meet Jim Marggraff, Dr. Andrew Van Schaack, Holly De Leon, and others at the Livescribe booth.  Andy, as Dr. Van Schaack, graciously asked me to call him, showed me early prototypes of both a talking Braille Periodic Table and a TalkingScientific calculator. I was blown away by these because of what they would surely mean to students with vision loss as these students must struggle to understand relationships and properties of the elements in chemistry and/or might not be able to afford talking scientific calculators (the latter typically cost at least $250 U.S. each).   Andy also told me how it might also be possible to create a talking/audible graphing calculator.  Later he shared some really helpful advanced techniques for using Livescribe Smartpen & paper which he details in the Teaching Strategy Guides he has authored (more about these in separate posts). The talking periodic table "knows" a lot about the elements.  With clicks of the Smartpen it can yield the following information about any element:  Symbol, Name, Atomic Weight,  Density, Melting point, Boiling point, Atomic radius, Ionic radius, Electronegativity, Ionization energy, Electron affinity, Heat of Fusion, and a few (?) others. Andy explained that he and Dr. Josh Miele of the Smith-Kettlewell Eye Research Institute had been developing these tools with funding from an NSF (National Science Foundation) grant.  He also shared that one of the most challenging issues with developing these applications wasn’t necessarily the programming but rather with finding just the right paper that would last reasonable long with frequent use (tapping of a Livescribe Smartpen with either an inking or preferably non-inking tip). Although the talking periodic table and talking scientific calculators aren’t yet available (as of 12/28/2009) I was delighted to find a video on YouTube by CrunchGear in which Pulse Smartpen inventor, Jim Marggraff, demonstrates this ground-breaking tool.  So hopefully it’s okay for me to help "spill the beans" about this extraordinary forthcoming tool which I actually see as a tool that supports UDL (Universally Designed Learning) as all chemistry students and teachers would undoubtedly find it invaluable in their studies and work.

Braille on Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Braille

Livescribe Chemistry Pencasts by Dr. Bob Belford

Dr. Bob Belford has created many pencasts for chemistry to support his Preparatory Chemistry (Chemistry 1300) course at UALR (University of Arkansas at Little Rock).*

These pencasts complement lecture outlines and interactive quizzes which Dr. Belford “hopes to move to a dynamic site in the near future”. Altogether the pencasts, outlines, and quizzes make for an extraordinary set of resources for beginning chemistry students.

Dr. Belford makes an important note about how pencasts sometimes replay: “Please note that the [Livescribe] pen capture software has some flaws and some of the penstrokes are not presented as they were performed. Like when I cancelled out a unit, it is now showing that occuring as I write the unit, not afterwards. You need to follow the logic of the audio file.” I (Tim Fahlberg) have also noticed this in a few of my pencasts and will share this feedback and hope for a fix from the Livescribe software development team.

Dr. Belford’s pencasts are here: chem1300 and include:

1.C Pencasts These are experimental pencasts using a livescribe pulse pen. This material is under development and I am not happy with the way they are currently posted. Be sure to turn your speakers on. Read more… Livescribe Chemistry Pencasts by Dr. Bob Belford