Among Africa’s rural Zulu people, formal education is often limited to “chalk talk,” relates Terry Hutter ’74/76 — memorization with no application.
Hutter, a professor at Butler Community College, was awarded a Fulbright Senior Specialist scholarship to bolster science education in Kwa-Zulu Natal, South Africa, where he spent three months of 2004.
With classrooms typically devoid of such hands-on learning tools as Bunsen burners and computers, simply typing a student’s name and seeing it appear on the screen of a computer the Kansas professor set up at the University of Zululand’s science center proved to be “almost magic” for the disadvantaged schoolchildren.
Hutter also performed chemistry demonstrations: “They know what ‘Zn’ means, but not what zinc looks or feels like.” Hutter’s efforts on behalf of the science center benefit more than youth, however. The center has created jobs for six Zulu men and two women so far.
A combination of dengue fever, viral meningitis and “an undiagnosed valley fever” — which sent his temperature up to 106 — won’t deter Hutter from returning to Africa, where he next plans to help Namibia establish its first science center.