Liverpool student-teacher to speak at symposium

Students deliver scientific calculators, training to Africa

A student-teacher in the Liverpool School District intent on becoming a secondary school science teacher by earning a master's degree at SUNY Oswego found himself in front of a classroom in Africa earlier this year teaching 70 French-speaking school inspectors how to use solar-powered scientific calculators.

Patrick Witmer, of Minoa, will tell how that came about in one of about 275 presentations Wednesday April 21, during SUNY Oswego's Quest symposium.

With senior adolescence education major Colleen Hamel, he will present "Advancing Secondary Education in Benin, 1,500 Calculators Strong" at noon in Room 233 of the Campus Center. Dr. Barbara Garii, associate dean of Oswego's School of Education, recruited Witmer for the Benin calculator project last summer. The school has a vigorous partnership with the Ministry of Education in Benin, and Garii had secured a donation of 1,500 Texas Instrument scientific calculators from Mercy Corps, a leading international relief and development organization.

She chose Witmer, a graduate student in adolescence physics education and a student in her research methods course, to work with three school inspectors from Benin who came to Oswego last summer to participate in SUNY Oswego's Project SMART.

Together they began laying the groundwork for effective use of the calculators in schools across the developing West African nation. Witmer showed the visiting educators how to use the advanced calculators for trigonometry, statistics and other functions, and they developed training modules and curriculum for their nation's schools.

Donated calculators to Project SMART paid to ship the 1,500 TI-30Xa solar-edition calculators from the West Coast to New York. Garii, Witmer, Hamel and the other students and faculty in Oswego's "Schooling, Pedagogy and Social Justice in Paris and Benin" class January each packed about 75 calculators into their luggage when they traveled to France and Benin.

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