two male students review notes at table

Do you hate math? Does math scare you? Have you ever wanted to try something but found out math was involved and decided you’d try something else? Are you afraid to try a college program because you think your math skills aren’t good enough to get you through?

Adult Basic Education has a way to help! In a project called Career Pathways, we pair with different programs, such as Welding, Automotive and Medical Assistant, to give students the extra boost they need to succeed! We have an Adult Basic Education (ABE) instructor in a program classroom to help teach basic math skills and the program instructor is the expert on the trade skills you need.

For example, this semester Annette Meihack from ABE paired with Steve Henderleiter from Welding in a Welding Print Reading class. Annette taught basic math skills, such as converting fractions to decimals and decimals back to fractions. We practiced measuring in metric and English standard and converting back and forth. We used problem-solving skills that applied to working on the job. We did fun, hands-on activities because we know that students interested in welding often prefer to use their hands instead of reading out of books and listening to lectures. We tried to incorporate this as much as possible!

One activity we did was called the foam project. Students were given foam board along with rulers and cutting tools. They read three different welding blueprints and cut their projects out of foam instead of metal. Practicing on foam first helps learn the skills needed without using costly metal which also eases stress about doing it wrong! We took into consideration where to place our cuts to leave the least amount of scrap to save employers money. We paid attention to measuring to make sure the edges of our materials weren’t warped, causing bad cuts.

Throughout the class, we did other activities. We talked about why estimating is such an important skill to have. The student who estimated the closest to the number of Hershey’s kisses in a jar, won the jar! We worked with surface area vs. volume and created cylinders out of construction paper to compare different volumes when surface area is the same. Solving real-life problems will help students think fast on the job to solve issues that come up there. They also made connections to everyday life off the job, like why manufacturers make different shaped bottles and packages and how to be a wise consumer.

If you aren’t planning on a career in any of the areas mentioned, we can still help. The Student Success Centers at each campus have instructors who can help with math as well as reading and writing. We often work with students who are enrolled in their general education courses as well. We are always happy to help.

Students found that math isn’t as scary or as hard as they thought. It can even be fun! Imagine what’s next!

Written by Annette Meihack