I remember the Projection Club members as the most earnest and serious young men at Jefferson Junior High School. Outfitted in puffy pants drawn tight at their trim waists, slide rules and mechanical pencils tucked into their breast pockets, they were privy to the secrets of the storage room at the end of the hall where the school’s audio visual equipment was kept: movie, filmstrip and slide projectors, reel to reel tape recorders, record players and a few overhead projectors. Developed by 3M in 1963, overhead projectors were the latest advance in educational technology back in 1966.
The Projection Club faculty sponsor was the geometry teacher, Mr. Smith. He was a good teacher. He had a gift for making geometry fairly clear even to mathematically challenged students like myself. I liked him.
Mr. Smith taught basic Euclidian geometry while standing at the front of the room writing on the overhead projector’s plastic film with an oily black erasable marker. In retrospect, I think the single greatest advantage the overhead projector had over the blackboard was the teacher’s ability to face and maintain eye contact with the students.
Teaching five classes, five days a week, I wonder how many miles of diagrams and proofs Mr. Smith wrote, erased and rewrote ad infinitum, on that long roll of plastic film. And some fifty years later, I can’t help but wonder where Mr. Smith and all those earnest young members of the Projection Club might be today? Are they still among the living? I hope so.