Fred’s Head from APH, a Blindness Blog

Fred’s Head, offered by the American Printing House for the Blind, contains tips, techniques, tutorials, in-depth articles, and resources for and by blind or visually impaired people. Our blog is named after the legendary Fred Gissoni, renowned for answering a seemingly infinite variety of questions on every aspect of blindness.

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Monday, August 20, 2012

Teach Science to the Blind with Plush Organs and Microbes

picture of plush microbes
picture of red plush smiley heart Here are two products that are fun, and a must for any science teacher of the blind or visually impaired. Most folks never realize how cute microbes can be when magnified 1,000,000 times and then fashioned into cuddly plush. Until now, that is. Keep one on your desktop to remind yourself that there is an "invisible" universe out there filled with very small things that can do incredible damage to much bigger things. Then go and wash your hands. Lather, rinse, repeat. Your choice of internal organs
  • Brain
  • Heart
  • Intestine (comes with additional appendix)
Your choice of Microbes:
  • Swine Flu (Epstein-Barr virus) Don't wait for the home edition electron microscope to come to market.
            • Toxic Mold (Stachybotrys chartarum) Is toxic mold lurking in your basement?
  • Chicken Pox (Varicella-Zoster virus) Don't be scared, a new vaccine is making chickenpox roadkill.
  • White Blood Cell (Leukocyte) Don't let his cute looks fool you -- this highly trained killer takes out enemy cells with extreme prejudice. Learn how to stay on his good side.
  • Red Blood Cell (Erythrocyte) The life of the party, his best trick is to hold his breath until he turns blue! Invite him to your next bash and he's sure to show you a bloody good time.
  • Cough (Bordetella pertussis) Coughs aren't just for smokers anymore -- now anybody can get one!
  • Brain Cell (Neuron) The more brain cells you have, the smarter you are.
  • Fat Cell (Adipocyte) With our little personal trainer around, you'll always be watching your weight.
  • Herpes (Herpes Simplex Virus 2) Breaking out is hard to do. Learn the facts.
  • Malaria (Plasmodium falciparum) The tropics have coconuts, soft beaches, clear water, shiny fish, colorful birds, steel drums, umbrella drinks. And Malaria.
  • Rabies (Rabies Virus) Your pets will be foaming at the mouth to get one of our Rabies dolls.
  • Mange (Sarcoptes scabei) Who you calling mangy? I'm just along for the ride! Find out more.
  • Heartworm (Dirofilaria immitis) A bad relationship can break your pets' heart. But they'll love this little worm!
  • Salmonella (Salmonella typhimurium) Which came first: the chicken, or the egg -- or the Salmonella bacteria?
  • The Plague - black death (Yersinia pestis) Improved hygiene and readily available antibiotics keep this bad boy at bay. But what a history.
  • Mad Cow Disease (Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy) When bovine prions stampede the wrong way, everyone says Moo! (Each doll has its own unique pattern.)
  • E. Coli (Escherichia coli) Everyone's welcome at a barbecue. Or are they?
  • Head Lice (Pediculus capitis) Having a lousy day? We've got a solution. Scratch your head, and try guess what it is!
  • Sleeping Sickness (Trypanosoma brucei) Are you tired? Working too hard? Feeling a bit cranky? Do you think you might have sleeping sickness? This little fellow will sing you a lullaby you'll never forget.
  • Acne/Pimple (Propionibacterium acnes) Got a blemish? Give our little fellow a big squeeze, and you're sure to feel better!
  • The Pox/Syphillis (Treponema pallidum) Don't let a pox end up on your house -- or anyone else's house. The more you know, the better for everyone's real estate.
  • The Clap/Gonorrhea (Neisseria gonorrhoeae) One of the most common venereal diseases, Gonorrhea can be easily cured -- or avoided. Know the risks.
  • Flesh Eating Disease (Steptococcus pyogenes) Caused by the same microbe responsible for strep-throats, Flesh Eating can put you on a diet -- fast.
  • Bad Breath - Halitosis (Porphorymonas gingivalis) Oral malodor is no laughing matter. But don't give spicy foods all the credit. Microbes deserve their share of the glory, too. Make someone smile (as long as they've brushed first.)
  • Common Cold (Rhinovirus) Billions of people a year catch the cold. Now you can get one too -- without getting sick! Learn all about the Common Cold with this cuddly companion.
  • Flu (Orthomyoxvirus) This guy may not look too tough, but don't let his cute looks fool you! Once he and his friends show up you're in for a pretty lousy time. Learn about his weaknesses so you can avoid unwanted encounters.
  • H.I.V. (Human Immunodeficiency Virus) Not cute in any sense, This plush microbe seeks to educate those about the deadly virus that destroys CD4 or T-helper cells.
  • Mono - Kissing Disease (Epstein-Barr Virus) A kiss is just a kiss -- unless she's around! 95% of the population has encountered this sweetie pie. Just think of all the fun you can have giving Mono to somebody without all the medical complications!
  • Sore Throat (Streptococcus) No one likes having a sore throat, unless it's a Giantmicrobe! Find out what makes Streptococcus bacteria more than just your average sore throat virus.
  • Stomach Ache (Shigella) Having a stomach ache can be loads of fun ... if it's a Giantmicrobe, of course! (And this one will tell you how to keep his friends away.)
  • Ulcer (Helicobater pylori) Guess what? Stress doesn't cause ulcers -- microbes do! But we guarantee that this little guy will give your most stressed out pal a laugh.
  • Beer Yeast (Saccharomyces cerevisiae) Come and get it! This microbe is a baker, and a brewer -- and a scientist to boot. Pretty amazing! Learn about the secrets to its success.
  • Ebola (Ebola Virus) Since its discovery in 1976, Ebola has become the T. Rex of microbes. Share the love!
  • BookWorm (Anobium punctatum) Do you have a favorite bookworm? We do! And our book-lover is sure to interest just about any bibliophile. No library should be without one of these!
Each 5-7 inch plush microbe comes with an instructional card that includes an actual picture of the microbe along with information about the microbe in its natural environment. Each internal organ has eyes and a smile! They also come with organ-specific trivia tidbits. Click here to purchase any of the Plush Microbes from ThinkGeek. Click here to purchase any of the Plush Internal Organs from ThinkGeek.


Another cool way to enjoy these in the classroom. In each Gift Box of Mini Plush Microbes, you'll get five mini plush microbes. Each one will fit in the palm of your hand. Though mini, they are actually almost a million times bigger than life size. You'll be happy they are just plush when you look at the microbes you'll get. Because some would just make you extra sick if they were this big, while others would just hurt (and we'll leave it at that)! Ah the gift of single cells, disease, and fungus - all in a heart-shaped box! Click here to purchase the Gift Box of Mini Plush Microbes from

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