William Walton in Nigeria, ca. 1966

William Walton in Nigeria, ca. 1966
American Institute of Physics (AIP) Emilio Segrè Visual Archives, Physics Today Collection

William Walton, Senior Research Physicist at MIT, investigating patterns made by oscillation in Northern Nigeria, ca. 1966

In 1966, [William Upton Walton] took his family to Enugu, Nigeria. While in Africa, he helped to develop innovative techniques to teach science to elementary and high school students and trained other teachers. It was an experience he would cherish....When he was teaching in Nigeria in the 1960s and had limited resources, he used whatever he could find as teaching aids. He used bamboo to construct a playground and paper to make flip books that detailed the cycle of the moon, as well as water-drop microscopes capable of detecting tiny organisms in lake water...Later, when he was teaching MIT students the principles of inertial navigation, he had his students use a simplified bubble accelerometer to measure the speed and distance between stops on the subway in Boston.

After a year, the family was forced to flee the Nigerian-Biafran War. Mr. Walton’s wife and daughter were evacuated to the United States, while Mr. Walton and his two sons went to Ghana. The family later reunited in Nairobi, where they remained until returning to the United States in 1968. [At MIT], he continued to explore new ways of teaching science to students of all ages. He continued to work with the Educational Development Center. 

Excerpts from"William Walton, 84; taught at MIT, worked in Africa" by Stewart Bishop, The Boston Globe, 24 June 2010

Timeline: 1960s
School: School of Science
Department: Physics
Career: EducationScience
Object: Image
Collection: Africa(n), Critical Mass 1955-1968, Faculty, STEM Education, Students