“Math Guy” Tutor and Geometric Models

Dan Suttin is a math tutor with the Developmental Math Lab at San Antonio College. He also enjoys the art of making Geometric Models.

By Guest Blogger: Dan Suttin

First and foremost, I would like to say that I have found the level of course work in the Math Department here at San Antonio College to be excellent, and the quality of teaching as well. My favorite course –as a student—was College Algebra. Although I had taken a similar course many years ago, I found that 95% of the material was quite new to me, and I absorbed it like a sponge. Since working as a tutor in the lab, it seems like I have been taking the course over and over again for almost three years, and I’m learning the material more and more deeply as I go.

There are three different College Algebra courses to choose from here at SAC, depending upon one’s career objective and degree plan. Students use three different text books, as well as a computerized, online course to aid learning. There are many different professors teaching the course, and each professor has his or her own preference as to which topics within the curriculum should be accentuated. Some professors even have different methods of approaching the same topic. For example, there are different techniques for using row operations to solve systems of equations with matrices or for evaluating 3×3 determinants. Professors use varying techniques for testing to see if the graph of a rational function crosses its horizontal assymptote, and some stress different approaches to working with logarithms and exponentials. It is my job, as a tutor, to understand where the professors are coming from, and to adapt to the teaching methods they are using.

Dan Suttin 2

The “Big Ball”, created by Dan Suttin, was on exhibit in the Oppenheimer Center (formerly called the AIC) from January 2010 through March 2011.

In addition to being a “math guy”, I am also interested in 3-D Geometric models and constructions as an art form. If you stepped foot in the Oppenheimer Center (formerly called the AIC) anytime from January 2010 through March 2011, you would have seen the “Big Ball” I had on exhibit there. I have since opened another exhibit called the “OCTA-TETRA Museum” located near the intersection of Guadalupe and Frio. Learn more.

Also, I recently presented a webinar for The American Mathematical Association of Two-Year Colleges (AMATYC) about “OCTA-TETRA Constructions and Polyhedron Models.” Watch now.  

I can truly say that it has been a pleasure working as a tutor at SAC and sharing my passion for teaching mathematics with students who are so eager to learn.

About the Blogger:
Dan Suttin is a tutor in the Developmental Math Lab (MCCH 121 and 119) at SAC. He assists students with math work in all the courses from Basic Mathematics (Math 0300) all the way through Pre-calculus (Math 2412). After working as a math instructor at the Healy-Murphy Center, an alternantive high school in San Antonio, Dan retired. Upon his retirement, he heard of SAC’s Senior Citizens’ Program where seniors over the age of 65 can audit courses for free.

Dan then decided to enroll in College Algebra (Math 1414) and Trigonometry (then Math 1316, but now called Pre-calculus, Math 2412). Along the way, he realized there was a need for math tutors. So, he applied and was hired. He has worked as a tutor at SAC since the early months of 2010 and continues to help countless SAC students succeed in math courses each semseter.


Let’s try this again – with Super PASS

Sophie Caldera-Castaneda
Guest Blogger

Did you know that nearly half of all incoming freshman in the United States go to a community college? Did you know that about 60 percent of those incoming freshman are not prepared for college level work?

A large majority of these students test into remedial math and reading. These classes can add to the length of time it would normally take for you to complete your degree by about two or more semesters. The fact is that a lot of students are not prepared for the Accuplacer test. Reasons can range from: “I was in a hurry so I just marked anything,” to “I didn’t have any breakfast and was hungry” to “Gosh it’s been a long time since I’ve done any math.”

Many students just don’t know how important this test is. The results from this test are going to determine if you are ready from college level courses or if you are going to need remedial classes.

So how can we help you get ready to re-test on the Accuplacer? Enter Super P.A.S.S.,  Preparation for Accuplacer Student Success. Super P.A.S.S. is a two-week accelerated remediation program created to improve student success for the large number of students who arrive unprepared for college level work. It is composed of seven hours of Reading instruction and 15 hours of math.

OK, now who will need to take Super P.A.S.S? Starting in the spring semester of 2013 it will be mandatory for incoming freshman who score in the bottom two levels of math and reading to register for Super PASS. The idea is to help students review, relearn or maybe learn things for the first time. In addition this experience is designed to provide an important boost in confidence as students begin their collegiate journey. But the big picture is, let’s try this again, let’s take this Accuplacer test and be ready for it.

We have morning, afternoon and evening sessions. The first session will begin Oct. 29, the cost is $75 and you can register for these classes at the Continuing Education Registration Desk. For more information, visit the website at http://www.alamo.edu/sac/super-pass.

 Sophie Caldera-Castaneda  is the coordinator for Super PASS/Math PASS at San Antonio College.

How San Antonio College fits in City Mission

Helen Torres
Guest Blogger

San Antonio College is participating in the upcoming STEM Expo Nov. 8-9 at the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center. This Expo aims to reach out to middle school students in five school districts: Edgewood, Southwest, South San, San Antonio and Harlandale.

Helen Torres

Helen Torres

Among the interactive sessions will be various SAC departments. These include: Dr. Dan Dimitriu, Engineering; Dan Suttin, math tutor; and Troy Touchette, Computer Information Services. Touchette will be accompanied by students from the Information and Technology and Security Academy. They took top honors in March at the CyberPatriot IV-The National High School Cyber Defense Competition in Washington, D.C.

The interactive sessions are designed to spark student interest in STEM careers at an early age. The overall goal of the college, businesses and city is to encourage engineers and scientists in San Antonio and keep the brainpower here. If we grow our city’s workforce in the STEM areas, San Antonio will attract strong business and industries that will pay competitive wages and raise income levels in San Antonio.

San Antonio College faculty have stepped up again to support community initiatives, the Mayor’s Educational 2020 goals, and support SAC’s goals of improved student success.

This partnership is a win-win for future SAC students who are being exposed to STEM careers early, and for the future workforce of the City of San Antonio.

Helen Torres, SAC’s Director of Partnerships & Extended Services, serves on the Hispanic Chamber Education Committee, and is responsible for forging college partnerships like this one with the Hispanic Chamber, UTSA, and area school districts.

Myths (and Truths) about winning the Texas Lottery

Gerald Busald, math professor and lottery buster

Gerald Busald

San Antonio College Math Professor Gerald Busald’s statistics classes have had interaction with the Texas Lottery since February 1997, when they discovered incorrectly advertised jackpot amounts for the Cash 5 game.

These SAC classes have been instrumental in causing numerous changes to the way the Texas Lottery does business. They were directly responsible for Spanish being included on the lotteries web pages. Professor Busald has studied other state’s lotteries and recommended “best practices” to the Texas Lottery, all of which have been adopted. His classes have had numerous appearances on television and had stories about them in local, state, and national newspapers. 

Gerald Busald
Guest Blogger

Not everything you think you know about the Texas Lottery is really true.

MYTH 1: I won $10 on a scratch-off ticket! Never true, because you paid something for that $10 ticket. If you paid $1, you won $9; if you paid $5 you won $5, and if you paid $10 you just broke even!

TRUTH 1: The more tickets I buy for an online game (Lotto, PowerBall, Mega Millions, Texas Two Step) the more likely I am to win. True, however that does not make it a good idea! For example, the probability of winning the top prize in Mega Millions with 1 ticket is 1 in 175,711,536. If you buy 10 tickets, the odds of winning the top prize becomes 1 in 17,571,153.6. To put those numbers in perspective, 175,711,536 seconds is over 5.5 years! Even if you spent $10, we’re talking 203.37 days. SAVE YOUR MONEY!

MYTH 2: If I buy a ticket for every drawing I’m bound to win eventually. Not true, the lottery balls never remember that you lost the last umpteenth times in a row, your odds for the next drawing will still be 1 in 17,571,536.

MYTH 3 (and half-truth): Lottery profits go to help education. The biggest education most get is that the more they play, the more they lose. However, since 1997 all Texas Lottery proceeds have been transferred to the Foundation School Fund to support public education in Texas. However, legislators have often simply used those proceeds to decrease the amount they must take from the general revenue fund to support education. Education doesn’t really benefit!

Gerald Busald has received several teaching awards: the Texas Mathematical Association of Two-Year Colleges Teaching Excellence Award, the NISOD Award, and the Yellow Rose of Texas Teaching Excellence Award. He also was named a 2011 Piper Professor.