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Math Lab Turns 20

Math Lab Turns 20

Patrice Conrath, associate professor of math and computer science, works with students in Bethel's Math Lab.

Every evening, Sunday through Thursday, you can visit Bethel’s Math Lab and find a group of mathematically-inclined students thinking, laughing, and desperately trying to figure out the curl of the vector function. The Math Lab, which provides drop-in tutoring sessions for Bethel’s math students, is currently in its 20th year. “It’s a great service, because it impacts both the students who are coming in and the tutors who are serving,” says Associate Professor of Mathematics Patrice Conrath, who manages the hiring and training of tutors for the Math Lab. 

Since its debut semester in fall 1992, the Math Lab has grown to serve nearly 2,000 students each semester. The 2009-1010 academic year hit a record peak, assisting a total of 4,236 students. Currently, the lab employs 37 tutors who offer different math specialties. “The most rewarding part of tutoring in Math Lab is getting to know other students,” says senior Emma Cotner. “I love helping students gain a true understanding of the math concepts that they are learning. It’s fun to watch students go from being completely confused to understanding exactly what to do and why.”

The lab also provides valuable teaching experience, giving students an opportunity to explore a new profession. “Math Lab influenced me to choose math education as a major,” explains junior Belle Hodgson. “The experiences I have had working with students have helped to push me in the direction of teaching and reaffirmed that it is what I want to do.”