Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Dyslexia and science learning

Last week in Turkey was Science and Technology Week – so I thought I would write about dyslexia and science learning in this dyslexia blog article.

First of all it must be remembered that many famous scientists and inventors are reputed to have been
dyslexic, such as Alexander Graham Bell, Faraday, Einstein and Leonardo da Vinci… to name but a few .In a previous article I talked about Carol Greider who was awarded a Nobel Prize for medicine.

Are People with Dyslexia Good at Science?

"Researchers at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics have been funded by the National Science Foundation to investigate the impact of dyslexia on scientists working in astronomy and astrophysics. A recently proposed neurological theory predicts that dyslexia may be associated with enhanced capacity for certain types of visual processing.This study investigates this hypothesis in the context of astronomy and astrophysics. This NSF study marks the first time the effects of dyslexia on science professionals will be systematically investigated.It is hoped that the work will uncover and document the challenges faced by scientists with dyslexia, but perhaps more importantly, lead to an understanding of the strengths these scientists bring to research. "


Dyslexic children often do well in science and technology as they tend to be very curious and are interested to find out out why and how things work .Science is a practical subject with concrete examples. Dyslexic children will generally enjoy the opportunity of being “hands on” and carrying out scientific experiments. Literacy skills are not as important in science subjects. Students are usually required to give single word answers and calculations rather than write long essays.

Strengths of dyslexic pupils in the Sciences may include:

• Lateral thinking
• Ability to design interesting experiments
• Contribution of creative, innovative ideas
• Asking insightful questions

In Turkish primary schools science and technology is taught from the 4th grade.Unfortunately the quality of science education Turkey is well behind other countries. In most cases , science is taught solely from text-books. Most students do not have the opportunity to undertake any experiments or use computers in school.

Common problems children who have dyslexia etc may have with science:

Those children who are dyslexic and find maths difficult and those who have dyscalculia may have problems with the mathematical formula required for science subjects.

Dyslexic students may have difficulty with the specialised vocabulary used in science subjects.

They may have problem remembering facts and formula.

They may encounter problems with sequencing information or actions in the right order.

Strategies to help students in Science

Teach dyslexic students mnemonics to help them learn facts and formula.
I talked about mnemonics in a previous dyslexia blog article.

Make flash cards with key words plus definitions to help students when revising for tests and exams.

Quizlet contains online flash cards. You can make your own flash cards on a topic of your choice or you use the sets already created and available from the site .İt is free to sign up to the Quizlet site.

Make up puzzles and games to learn scientific terms.A useful site for ready made crosswords puzzles ,word search and other games etc is :

Make word mats for specific topics. Word mats are designed to help pupils remember key words.In addition they help students with writing and also encourage correct spelling. Word mats contain a selection of key words plus illustrations organised in categories.

Sheffield and Staffordshire Education Departments have some helpful word mats in science subjects.

(Key stage 1 and 2 )

Staffordshire Learning Net : Literacy in Science

Powerpoint presentations are useful to to use to help pupils go over topics learnt in class or as a revision exercise for a test or exam.Powerpoint presentations usually contain short clear sentences and also often have illustrations and pictures to help clarify information.Dyslexic children may be more willing to read powerpoints as they are generally short and too the point.
Here are some useful sites for ppts :

Jefferson County Schools : science ppt presentations:

Pete’s Power Point station :

Sadly in Turkey as I pointed out very often children don’t get the chance carry out scientific experiments at school. If your child likes experiments you could try to get them to do some at home .The Turkish science magazine for children called Bilim Çocuk ( Science Child ) every month includes some simple science experiments children can carry out .There are also some books for children on this subject which you could buy. If your children is curious about science this is a good way to encourage them to read.In order to carry out the experiment they want to do they will have to initially read the instructions given .

Make use of visual materials such as diagrams , illustrations ,flow charts to re- inforce learning.

Take children to science museums to help bring the subject alive.

For a useful dictionary of Turkish – English science terms see :


(Turkish Science Dictionary)

1 comment:

Uma Abraham said...

There are so many students who are dyslexic at a very young age and don't know what to do. It is a big relief to see such blogs and other forms of media talking about dyslexia and creating awareness among the older people.

An India movie Tare Zameen Par was a great contribution to this platform as well.