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Fri, Dec. 13

Snyder brings back 'drawmathics'
Retired teacher goes back to school with his instruction method

Al Snyder diagrams a generator producing electricity to illuminate a light bulb Tuesday during a drawmathics presentation to Karen Sutherland’s fourth-grade class at Manzanita Elementary School. Students were drawing a Maine lighthouse that Snyder played in as a boy. TERRY ORGAN/Miner

Al Snyder diagrams a generator producing electricity to illuminate a light bulb Tuesday during a drawmathics presentation to Karen Sutherland’s fourth-grade class at Manzanita Elementary School. Students were drawing a Maine lighthouse that Snyder played in as a boy. TERRY ORGAN/Miner

KINGMAN - Al Snyder is back in class teaching "drawmathics," a combination of drawing and math he developed at Manzanita Elementary School.

Snyder retired last June after 32 years of teaching at the school. However, he returned in January to instruct in drawmathics to any teacher wishing his or her class to benefit from the multi-faceted lesson. He has instructed 17 classes to date.

"I used to live near a lighthouse in Pemequed, Maine, and often climbed its tower," Snyder said Tuesday prior to teaching in Karen Sutherland's fourth grade class.

"I'm now showing the kids such things as how electrical energy is made with a diesel engine and a generator sending it up to the tower of the light."

Snyder's one hour, 15-minute presentation is tailored to lead into a 30-minute cassette about a lighthouse titled, "Three Skeleton Keys." It was written in France in 1892 and later adapted for radio in 1948.

The tape contains 67 figures of speech that include simile, metaphor and personification.

Students draw the Pemequed Lighthouse under step-by-step direction from Snyder.

In the process, they learn about arches that add support to the structure, why the lighthouse has stone instead of metal decks, and the practicality of a spiral staircase.

"The kids come in thinking this is just a drawing lesson," Sutherland said. "But it's an incredible lesson with so many components to it such as language, math, geography, physics and architecture.

"The kids are so mesmerized by (Snyder's) stories that they pay close attention to everything."

Students also learned a bit about history. Snyder began his talk by telling them the lighthouse they were going to draw was built during the presidency of Ulysses Grant and around the time of Custer's Last Stand at the Little Big Horn.

Snyder used to ride two miles on his bike to reach the lighthouse as a boy. The light no longer works as it was designed and now has a strobe light in its place, he said.

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