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.

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Navigating the world of higher education can be tough

By Analisa Garza
Guest Blogger

I can remember being an incoming freshman; the college campus was a different world to me.  I felt lost and alone, the instructors seemed intimidating and I had no idea where to begin.  The first few years were rough waters and without strong ties to classmates and professors in my field of study I quickly began to sink academically.  Reflecting a few years later after having successfully obtained  my master’s degree in Biology from Texas A&M International University, I realized that the tides turned when I took a position as a student worker in a STEM office.  Mesa Logo

Working in the Biology and Chemistry department gave me (more like forced me) to have close connections with STEM professors and classmates.  Having these connections was one of the driving forces that helped me commit myself to being a serious scholar.  I was   surrounded by people that knew how to navigate the waters I was unfamiliar with, and I didn’t want to disappoint the people I saw daily.  Also, I quickly came to realize that my instructors were easier to talk to than I had anticipated and that each one of them sincerely cared about my success.  Over the course of several years these professors connected me with other STEM students, taught me how to do original literature and laboratory research, helped me successfully receive scholarships that paid for my entire graduate program, and gave me the opportunity to instruct lower-level undergraduate courses.  They helped me get my first job as a high school science teacher and hired me as adjunct faculty when I graduated with my master’s degree.  The support and direction they gave me helped me go from a mediocre student to an A+ Scholar and I will be forever grateful.

With this in mind, I am so excited and privileged to be the new Mathematics, Engineering, and Science Achievement (MESA) Center Coordinator.  I know the impact the MESA Center will have on student success by connecting SAC students to their STEM classmates, professors, and community partners in their field. The MESA Center is a great place to connect with likeminded students pursuing degrees in the STEM areas and STEM affiliated student organizations.  It can also help by introducing you to STEM faculty and counselors that will help you navigate the waters of higher education, and help you find the extra help you need to become successful in the courses you are finding most difficult.  Having these connections will also help you find and secure the internship and research opportunities you want (Did you read Isabelle’s blog about her internship this summer at NASA).  These opportunities will help to ensure your scholastic success and equip you for your future career.

If you are a STEM student, or even just thinking about going into a STEM field, drop by the MESA Center.   It is located in the Chance Academic Center, Room 204.  I’d be happy to show you around the center, give you more information about the resources the Center has to offer and introduce you to some of the students that hang out here.  You can also learn more about the MESA Center and download a membership application from our website, or keep track of all the cool things we’re doing by liking us on Facebook and following us on twitter.  The MESA Center is a boat that knows how to navigate rough waters, so hop on!  It’s more fun when your travel with friends!

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The first Adelante Tejas STEM-ulate: Science Showcase will be Wednesday, Sept. 5 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Professors and students will present experiments  in the Loftin Student Center Mall as part of the Organization Showcase of on-campus clubs.

For more info about  MESA, visit Alamo.edu/sac/MESA or find them  on facebook: MESAatSAC.

 

Adelante Tejas – Year one nears completion

 By Title V Grant staff
 Guest Bloggers

In October 2011, San Antonio College (SAC) and Sul Ross State University (SRSU) began the Adelante Tejas (Forward Texas) grant partnership to improve Science, Technology, Engineering and Math education for Hispanic and low-income Texas students. This Title V grant seeks to increase the number of students declaring STEM majors at SAC and matriculate them through to corresponding graduate programs at SRSU.

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Counselor Rosa Maria Gonzalez and Instructor Alfred Alaniz advise a SAC student.

SAC’s grant support staff came on board in early 2012, which included a web master, a programmer, a student success specialist, a research specialist, and a pipeline coordinator. Grant staff from SAC and SRSU quickly began a comfortable long-distance working relationship.

In April 2012, Sul Ross hosted the first site visit in Alpine, for six San Antonio College delegates. Faculty and staff from both institutions met their counterparts, toured the university campus, visited the McDonald Observatory and explored Big Bend National Park together.

In June 2012 the combined Adelante Tejas team conducted a three-day STEM Summer Institute at San Antonio College to introduce faculty to new technological opportunities that could enhance STEM instruction.

Attendees learned how audiovisual podcasts could be used to supplement traditional classes and each recorded a short podcast to get more comfortable with the process. The Adelante Tejas grant calls for the development of 10 podcasts per year. As of this writing, nine podcasts have been recorded and eight have been delivered.

The Summer Institute participants also learned about 3D visualization technologies and were shown examples of how those could supplement STEM classes to clarify difficult concepts or to virtually ‘share’ bulky classroom models and physical artifact samples with students. Currently, faculty has proposed six 3D visualization projects and four proof-of-concept examples have been completed.

Fostering student-faculty rapport was the focus of an intensive four-day academic advising training institute that took place in July at SAC. Nine SAC faculty members and the SRSU Adelante Tejas director, Leslie Hopper, attended the institute. Video of these training sessions was streamed live over the Internet for those SRSU faculty and staff who were not able to attend.

This advising institute was designed to equip faculty with the tools, support and encouragement needed to advise students. In addition to training and workshop exercises, question and answer sessions with students gave the faculty first-hand exposure to real student concerns and insight into relevant advising strategies. Grant representatives, with assistance from staff and faculty from both institutions, are developing an institutional articulation agreement and a draft has been proposed. In addition to the agreement draft, three majors have been selected for the development of transfer guides. These include a BS in Biology, BS in Wildlife-Biology and a BS in Mathematics. A draft for the BS in Mathematics has been developed and has been presented for approval to department chairs at both institutions.

As part of the articulation agreement discussion, several instruments that would assist in the SAC to SRSU transfer process have been considered for inclusion. The addition of a consortium agreement would allow students to receive credit for hours enrolled at SAC to be considered in their financial aid package from Sul Ross for each semester they are co-enrolled. Also, a joint admissions agreement would allow SAC students to receive academic and financial advising through web-conferencing from SRSU staff before official admission into SRSU.

Representatives from both institutions continue to hold weekly web conferences and plan to finalize the articulation agreement, the BS in Mathematics transfer planning guide, the consortium agreement and the joint admissions agreement in anticipation of a signing ceremony in Spring 2013.

In August 2012, some 10 members of SAC’s faculty and staff (along with one student) visited the Sul Ross campus and learned more about the unique field research opportunities available to students in and around the West Texas Chisos Mountain range. SAC geology major Reuben Uribe met with SRSU graduate students and was invited to participate in hydrology field research the following week. This unexpected invitation is a prime example of the collaboration that can develop from this partnership.

As the first grant year comes to a close, SAC and Sul Ross have developed a solid foundation for the success of the Adelante Tejas grant and we are looking forward to the next four years.

Transfer success: SAC to TAMUSA

By Zach Havins
Guest Blogger      

Being an “undecided student” can be nerve wracking. There are life altering decisions you must make based on the degree you want to pursue. Luckily, I found the bachelor’s degree I want to pursue with the help of advisers at San Antonio College (SAC) and Texas A & M University at San Antonio (TAMUSA). I chose to pursue a degree in a STEM field of study, Bachelor of Business Administration(BBA) in Computer Information Systems (CIS) with a concentration in Information Assurance and Security at TAMUSA.

Choosing a STEM field of study that easily transfers from SAC or surrounding Alamo colleges to TAMUSA, offered a variety of benefits. The obvious advantages of is the low-cost tuition and the multiple locations across San Antonio. SAC  was only a few short miles from my apartment, saving me money on gas and allowing me to focus more on my education rather than my expenses.

What I enjoyed most  were the interchangeable courses TAMUSA allows as substitutions. My degree requires a literature course, but I wasn’t interested in taking British Literature, Philosophy or any of the standard literature courses. TAMUSA advisers mentioned that I can take a foreign language class to substitute and that also includes American Sign Language (ASL). That  sounded like a fun and easy “blow off” class to me. Surprise –  I discovered this to be one of the hardest classes I ever enrolled in and one of the most enjoyable and enlightening. Instructor John Cage  gave me great awareness and knowledge about the deaf community and culture. I can now communicate using basic sign language with any of the estimated 116,000 hearing-impaired people in San Antonio.

Concurrent enrollment was the official name of my enrollment status during my first semester at TAMUSA, meaning I was enrolled in both lower-level courses at SAC and upper-level courses at TAMUSA. I found this both convenient and  spectacular. TAMUSA is a new, but fast growing university.   The student-to-teacher ratio is almost identical to SAC, allowing for you to receive extensive help from professors and improved class lectures. There is   room for students to get involved.  This summer,  I was elected Vice-President of the Cyber Security Athenaeum (CSA) club at TAMUSA.

I arrived at TAMUSA with little experience on working with computers or servers, running an operating system other than  Microsoft Windows. Less than two years later and spending countless hours in the lab, preparing and competing in the last four cyber competitions, I have gained a surplus  of knowledge in the Computer Security field and feel confident I will find a job with ease and be highly successful upon graduation.

Zach Havins is currently a student at Texas A & M University-San Antonio.

When advising matters, faculty is there

Dr. Teanna Staggs
Guest blogger

With new limitations on the length of time that students are eligible for financial aid, never before has advising been so important. In 2009, the San Antonio College Biology Department embarked on a process that has now become a college-wide endeavor. We decided that student advising for our discipline was best placed in the hands of the faculty who specialize in a plethora of Biology sub-specialties.

A self-contained advising system was developed with the help of a talented programmer. Today, almost the entire department is trained on the system. In conjunction with the new Alamo GPS software and six newly revised degree plans, every faculty advisor now carries an advising load of students.
Here’s how it works: Students sign up for advising in the department by providing us with vital information that is entered into the system. Once entered, students are sorted by their chosen degree plan. For example, if the student is pursuing an AS in Nutrition, he will be paired with a nutrition professor. If a student is pursuing a pre-med or other professional degree, she will be paired with one of our pre-medical advisors. At that point the professor will email the student to set up an appointment for advising.

It is important the student brings copies of transcripts for any coursework not currently showing up in the ACES or GPS transcript. Our program will capture all coursework from the ACES transcript and populate a one-page spreadsheet to create a degree audit. The program also identifies any missing coursework the student needs to complete the degree. This is why the transcripts are important. If the courses are not in ACES, we can manually enter those courses and provide Admissions and Records with proof of course equivalency where appropriate.

At that point, we track our students by meeting with them at least once per semester to update their progress and make sure they are following the most efficient path toward graduation. Upon completion of the path, we complete the graduation paperwork and submit it for the student.

Students: Do you know the difference between the AS in Biology with a Pre-Nursing emphasis and the AAS in Nursing? We do.
Do you know which pre-requisite courses are shared among all Texas medical, dental and veterinary schools? We do.
Do you know which universities absolutely will not accept chemistry courses taken during a summer session? We do.

Dr. Teanna Staggs is the chair of San Antonio College Natural Sciences Department, which includes Astronomy, Biology, Chemistry and Earth Science programs.

57 years and counting – Computer Info Systems

Long before there were desktops in every home, laptops in every backpack, and an iPod in every pocket there was a Computer Information Systems (CIS) department at San Antonio College.

The year was 1954 and the college listed a handful of computer courses all tied to International Business Machines (IBM). SAC was on the leading edge in education by offering these courses because computers were just moving into the business world.

Over the last 57 years the CIS curriculum has changed to keep pace with the technology – from the main frame operating system of the 1960s and 1970s, to the microcomputer specialist of the 1980s, and today’s network security administration.

In the late 1990s, computer programs saw massive job losses to overseas outsourcing and the dot-com industry bust. But in the last few years, companies are outsourcing IT services to U.S.-based computer firms. This trend is good for students and prospective employees.

Another innovation for SAC and the Alamo Colleges is the Information and Technology and Security Academy (ITSA). Qualified students receive training in high-wage demand occupations during their junior and senior years of high school. Students earn one year of college credits free and participate in a paid internship in key local industries.

This year, a team of ITSA students brought home the national championship of the National High School Cyber Defense Competition. CyberPatriot is a unique competition geared toward teenagers that replicates real life cyber security situations faced by computer administrators.

A teenager preventing break-ins in a computer system – that’s a long way from mountains of magnetic tape and main frames that fill an entire floor of an office building.