New math, science program to help students prepare for chemistry classes this summer


Dean of Mathematical Sciences Marlow Lemons gives a speech about a new math program for chemistry students during the Academic Senate meeting at the Distance Education Center on Tuesday, May 2. (Raphael Richardson | The Union)

A new program to help chemistry students sharpen math skills for classes at El Camino College was introduced during the May 2 Academic Senate meeting.

The Scientific-Math Academy will help students interested in chemistry improve their math skills needed to take major-specific classes.

The original Math Academy program, free to take for all El Camino students over the summer or winter sessions, is designed to help students gain the skill to pass their math classes.

Recently, another educational field was interested in the program.

“There was… interest brought by the chemistry faculty that some of our students are lacking the mathematical skills to do their labs,” Dean of Mathematical Sciences Marlow Lemons said.

Lemons said that they thought it was a great idea to be able to add to the Math Academy, by creating a Scientific-Math Academy.

Chemistry professor Soshanna Potter generated the initial interest from the chemistry faculty.

“When I heard about the program that… the math department is running in one of our STEM success meetings, I got excited about [it], ‘could we offer a similar academy for students going into chemistry classes?’” Potter said.

Potter said chemistry requires a bit of knowledge of math to effectively understand and goes deeper than just chemicals.

“We think of chemistry as being like the fun chemical reactions, like fireworks, or we imagine mixing chemicals together and explosions happen… but a big part of chemistry is also applied math,” Potter said.

Potter wants any student coming into a chemistry class to take the course over the summer.

“I think that any student who’s coming into any of our classes… should review math, especially if it’s been a while since they’ve taken math classes,” she said.

The free course lasts for four weeks, from July 17 to Aug. 10. Students who complete the course can get a free graphing calculator from the college.

The new academy will offer mathematical training to help students take the Chemistry 4, 20 and 21A classes, which Lemons said require some math skills.

“[It] will cover particular topics like scatter plots, or doing conversions between inches and centimeters, or temperature from Celsius to Fahrenheit,” Lemons said.

Students interested in taking either the Math Academy or Scientific-Math Academy can do so by clicking the link at the bottom of the Math Academy’s web page.

Lemons said he hopes to see students enroll in the course.

“It’s an opportunity for any student with any background to be able and come and get the skills that are needed so that they’ll be successful,” Lemons said.


Editor’s Note: Fixed a grammatical error on Monday, May 8, at 10:44 a.m.