Renovations Upgrade Math Discovery Lab


NEW AND IMPROVED: Math students take advantage of the remodeled math discovery center in AS 103.

Kristine Tuzon, Staff Writer

The Math Discovery Center went through a $620,000 renovation during winter break to better accommodate GCC math students.

Through the Title V grant, the program received new chairs, tables, carpet and paint. Additional computers and sliding glass doors were installed to open up more space, add light and more technology systems for students.

Since its opening in 1980, the Math Discovery Center has come a long way to help students learn and succeed in mathematics.

Formerly called the Math Science Center, math professor Steve Marsden and physics professor Jean Lecuyer searched for an afternoon lab for students who needed additional help in math and science. They started the program in a small room in the Camino Real building.

The Math Science Center faculty noticed a decreasing number of science students. A majority of students needed help in math. As a result, the Math Science Center became the Math Discovery Center.

Michael Davis, who along with Shogher Baghdasarian is a Math Discovery Center senior instructional computer lab tech, said the remodel included an installation of 276 computers and a removal of five faculty offices to create one computerized classroom for the self-paced program.

“We’re hoping to infuse a whole lot more technology into the curriculum of mathematics,” said mathematics division chair Kathleen Holmes. All computers were installed with Mathematica, Geogebra and Scientific Notebook software to help students with different levels of math.

Modifications were also made in the rooms surrounding the center. Arroyo Seco rooms 102, 104, 114 and 115 are now computerized, and all rooms now have a connecting entrance into the center.

The center has teachers and student tutors available during different hours. Students who need help can drop in for five- to-10 minutes to get help with challenging math problems.

Student math tutors are

have completed and excelled in Calculus I and are recommended by math instructors.

Chemistry major Ericka Cruz, 21, said she originally did not do well in math. With the help from tutors and teachers, she finished Math 108. Cruz said she sees both sides as a student who once needed help, and as a student who now helps others succeed.

Another feature the center offers is the self-paced program, which is an open enrollment computerized independent learning for students who are in Math 155 through Math 119. The class is broken down into modules so students can learn at an individual pace.

An example is Math 219, Intermediate Algebra I. The class is broken into modules 219 A, B and C for each unit the class offers. When a student successfully completes one module, the student receives one unit and continues to the next module.

“It’s been a pretty popular program. People have been enrolling in it more and more,” Davis said. “The success rate for statistics of people who’ve been in self-paced classes is actually higher than people who are in traditional lecture format.”

Students enrolled in self-paced classes must log into the Math Discovery Center for six hours a week to stay enrolled. The classes have no formal lecture, but do have video lectures.

Aerospace engineering major Jose Sifuentes, 26, took self-paced courses in math 145 and 146. “I needed something at my own pace,” Sifuentes said. “I completed everything pretty fast.”

Using the center’s services since 2009, Sifuentes recommends students check it out. “You don’t make an appointment for tutors. They’re always here. You’ll always find a quiet spot to study,” he said. “They just renewed it. It’s amazing. They did a good job.”

Many students enrolled in math classes are not aware of the center’s program. In a 2011-2012 report by the math, 21 percent of math students enrolled used the Math Discovery Center. Students who spent five or more hours in the center passed their math class an average 71 percent of the time compared to 56 percent of students who spent no time in

the center.

Holmes encourages students to come and she advises students who need additional help to make a half hour appointment at the Learning Center in AD232.

Founders Marsden and Lecuyer said it is way beyond what they created in 1980.

“What we started 33 years ago compared to right now, makes me very proud,” Marsden said.

Lecuyer hasn’t been in the center for years, but he said he has nothing but compliments

for the math center.

“They expanded it in wonderful ways. It helped a lot of students make it through,” Lecuyer said.

The Math Discovery Center is located in AS 103 and is open Monday through Thursday from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m., Friday 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. and Saturday 10 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. For additional information, call the center at (818) 240-1000, ext. 5362.