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UKZN Outreach Program Teaches Visually Impaired Students About The Solar System



UKZN Outreach Program Teaches Visually Impaired Students About The Solar System

UKZN Outreach Program Teaches Visually Impaired Students About The Solar System. In an inspiring initiative coinciding with Eye Care Awareness Month, the University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN) orchestrated an Astronomy outreach programme at the Arthur Blaxall School for the visually impaired in Pietermaritzburg.

Led by Professor Rituparno Goswami and Dr. Sinenhlanhla Precious Sikhosana from the Astrophysics Research Centre (ARC), the event aimed to illuminate the wonders of the solar system for approximately 150 visually impaired learners aged six to 17.

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Bridging the Sensory Gap

The programme, meticulously designed by UKZN staff and students, transcended visual limitations by engaging the learners through tactile, auditory, and olfactory stimuli.

Goswami and Sikhosana captivated the audience with an engaging narrative on the solar system, peppered with intriguing facts. Following this, learners explored tactile models of planets, accompanied by temperature-inducing props, offering a multi-dimensional understanding of celestial bodies.

Engaging all Senses

A highlight of the event was the conversion of radio waves emitted by planets into audible sounds, allowing learners to “hear” the voices of distant worlds. Additionally, a clever use of diluted sulphuric acid spray evoked the distinctive scent of Venus’ acidic clouds, further enriching the sensory experience. By catering to auditory, tactile, and olfactory senses, the programme ensured a holistic comprehension of astronomical concepts.

Empowering Through Education

The enthusiastic response from learners underscored the efficacy of the approach, with many expressing admiration for the creativity in crafting planetary models. Notably, the Arthur Blaxall School expressed interest in establishing a collection of such educational exhibits, signaling a lasting impact beyond the event.

Goswami emphasized the importance of effective outreach in nurturing scientific curiosity among learners with disabilities, fostering a pathway towards potential careers in astronomy and astrophysics.


The UKZN Outreach Programme exemplifies the transformative power of inclusive education in fostering a deeper understanding of the cosmos among visually impaired learners. By harnessing innovative methods and engaging all senses, the initiative not only transcended physical barriers but also ignited a passion for scientific inquiry.

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