Throwback Thursday Object: The Calculaid

Our object this week is one of my favorites, a math tool from the 1960s.  Andrew F. Schott, a math professor at Marquette University, developed an elementary school mathematics curriculum known as individualized mathematics in the mid-1950s which was adopted by schools all over the country.  In the early 1960s, the research department at APH began studying the possibility of adapting Schott's system in schools for the blind.  An abacus developed by Schott, the Numberaid, and a number of other devices, the Calculaid, Measureaid (a ruler and protractor), Fractionaid, and Geometraid were eventually listed in the APH catalog.  Pictured here is the Calculaid, basically a white plastic board with ten rows of six plastic wheels.  The “wheels” are actually ten sided, brailled to represent zero to nine.  A frame at the top of the Calculaid held your “Numberaid.”  APH was always looking at new trends in education and testing their adaptation for students who were blind or visually impaired.  Parts of Schott’s apparatus remained in the APH catalog until 1979, but research about the system’s effectiveness was inconclusive.
Captions:  First photo is a Calculaid with its ten rows of six plastic wheels.  Second photo is a black and white image from the APH catalog, with the Numberaid, a plastic abacus, snapped into place.
Micheal A. Hudson
Museum Director
American Printing House for the Blind


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