Grand Opening of LB “Math Cafe” set for Wednesday, Oct. 3
Gavin Rose wakes up in a grumpy state. With only 10 minutes to throw on some clothes and get ready for the day, he contends with his excited dogs, hollering at them until he manages to be free of his house. Another 10 minutes to make it to the Lebanon Shuttle– he doesn’t waste a second.
Getting to campus early, Rose has plenty of time to sit down and labor away at his math homework. For this first year student, the room that surrounds him doesn’t seem out of place. It feels very much a part of his experience during his first week of class.
The smooth, light brown colored walls accompanied by the lack of seering lights makes for a pleasant atmosphere. This quality, when taken with relaxing chairs, adjustable height tables, and perhaps the most important– coffee, makes this room ideal for doing some serious studying.
“It’s comfortable, quiet, they have computers and a Keurig machine,” said Rose.
The Math Cafe is designed to be a conduit, linking students who need a quiet safe space to ask questions, to math faculty that have talent in assisting students. There have been some big changes in the Math Department at LBCC within the last year, among them, the introduction of a computer program called ALEKS (Assessment and Learning in Knowledge Spaces).
The cafe is designed to help students in math courses (MTH 50-98) who might be struggling with their assignment, or those who just want a quiet place to hangout and get their work done.
“The whole idea is to inspire students to not be afraid of math, but to enjoy it,” said Chareane Wimbley-Gouveia, Faculty Learning Center Coordinator.
Wimbley-Gouveia believes that students should have a place to learn math skills necessary to life in a way that relieves pressure from the student.
“If we are afraid of the information, then we close off a whole realm of power.”
Prior to work starting on the Math Cafe over the summer, the project was in review to get approval for funds. The room was once filled with long tables with cubicles separated by testing screens. It was a utilitarian space, dull, and drab. In order to create a new environment, the old had to be gutted and replaced.
This task fell to a team of faculty within the Math Department; Brie Wood, Hollis Duncan, Sheri Rogers, Claire Burke, Gary Brittsan, Shannon Harbert, and Chareane Wimbley-Gouveia. Support also came from Kristina Holton, the dean of the SEM division (Science, Engineering, Math). The team spent the summer removing old furniture, painting, and designing a more inviting space for students to come for math help– and the students came.
During the first week of fall term, from Monday through Thursday there were 114 total visits to the Math Cafe.
“I don’t like people hovering over me, it’s uncomfortable. Here, if I need help, I have people,” said Emily Turner, a first year nursing student.
Wood, who is in charge of the Math Cafe, has been a part of LBCC in some facet for more than a decade. She started as a student, then she worked as a math tutor, a teacher, and an instructional assistant. Over the years Wood has developed many skills, some not related to math, that students flock to her for.
“All the talents she [Wood] has can be used to foster a growth mindset, and help students persist,” said Wimbley-Gouveia.
The Grand Opening of the Math Cafe will be held on Wednesday, Oct. 3 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. in the Learning Center, Willamette Hall, Room 208.
It has drawn support from ALEKS, who will be providing pastries and door prizes at the event.
In addition to a supportive staff, a great atmosphere, and the convenient availability of drop-in math help for students, the cafe also offers wifi, laptops, test review sessions, and of course–free coffee.
Derik Shmittle, a first year Psychology major, sits at a table working on his ALEKS homework. After his bike ride to school he loads a cup with Donut Shop coffee. Taking a sip, he makes a grimace.
“Yeah, it’s not that good,” said Schmittle.
“It’s a relaxing atmosphere to do math, there is really no outside distractions. Plus there is coffee.”
According to Shmittle, just choose a different kind.