Margaret Hurlbert
Margaret Hurlbert
Margaret Hurlbert works as the Editor of Discover Muscatine Newspaper.

Muscatine Living

MUSCATINE, Iowa–No matter what branch of math they focus on, math teachers often get questions from students about how what they learn applies to real life. Rather than dreading these questions, many teachers welcome it, as it allows them to show students all the important connections between math and certain tasks people complete at work and at home. Oct. 6, Jordan Meyer and Lindsay Moeller took their seventh grade pre-advanced placement math classes to HNI to see math in action at their production facilities.

Currently, students in seventh grade pre-advanced placement math classes have turned their attention to the number system, learning about the different ways to represent numbers, including as decimals, exponents, fractions, squares, and beyond. These skills help students with both practical math, such as taking various types of measurements, and with more advanced math concepts they will experience in future courses.

While at HNI, students got to see some of these ways of representing numbers used in the field, as they watched furniture get made, inspected for quality, and sent along for packaging and shipping. Meyer explained: “students toured the Oak Laminate Plant and were able to see exactly the process of how furniture is made there. They were able to see the robots that were used to cut holes in the wood, workers who were performing quality tests on different items, and how the finished products were shipped across Second Street in the clear elevator.”

Susan Clark Junior High School seventh graders visiting HNI with the pre-advanced placement math classes. Photo courtesy Jordan Meyer.

As part of the quality control process, students got to try out what workers do to ensure pieces come out in the correct size and will fit together the right way when assembled. They also observed workers at HNI using math skills to obtain the accurate measurements needed to make sure parts will fit together correctly. “Students were able to check the accuracy of the cuts by using calipers, which are used to measure distances,” shared Meyer. As an added bonus, students got to visit HNI’s showroom, seeing how the properly put together pieces of furniture meet the needs and preferences of customers.

Because seeing the skills they practice in school on display in the real world inspires students to try their best, and can also lead them to pursue certain careers, Meyer welcomed this chance to take students to HNI: “I think it is extremely important to expose students to what types of job opportunities are out in the real world. HNI is a great example of a workplace that has a variety of entry points, different levels of schooling necessary, and different jobs within the company. Exposing students to different types of jobs opens their eyes to potential careers they may be interested in.”

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