Rolling out the red carpet

Posted on Sep 9, 2015 :: Education and Training
Posted by , Insight on Manufacturing Staff Writer

IF YOU’RE A MATH TEACHER and you’re sick of hearing students ask, “Why do I need this stuff, anyway?” — just show them.

This month, the NEW Manufacturing Alliance is releasing nine new Get Real Math videos to show students math in action in the workplace. The new videos will be showcased during a Hollywood-like premiere Sept. 30 at the Meyer Theater.

That’s not all — the alliance also wants to give math teachers the star treatment on the red carpet.

Teachers in math and tech education departments from around the New North have been invited to attend the free event with their spouses, says Ann Franz, NEW Manufacturing Alliance director. They’ll be photographed on the red carpet and spotlighted as the stars of the evening. Manufacturers have been invited as well and will introduce the videos made at their companies.

“Our real goal of this whole event is a celebration of manufacturers andeducators working together,” Franz says.

The new videos are a follow-up to five Get Real Math videos from Sargento, Ariens and KI launched last fall. The nine new videos, funded in part by a National Science Foundation Grant through Northeast Wisconsin Technical College, will feature Robinson Metal, KI and NWTC, Franz says.

Each video runs between two and five minutes and highlights a different math problem covering areas such as whole numbers, trigonometry and conversion to metric. Those are skills that would be taught in NWTC’s Math Trades I class, but are also skills high school or middle school students would learn.

NWTC math teacher Rachel Johnson is developing the teacher lesson plans that go along with the videos.

“Everything being shown is a real-life problem,” Franz says. “These are not make-believe. These are real-life examples of the math skills somebody working in a manufacturing environment would need to know to do their job.”

The original idea to produce the math videos came out of discussions in the alliance’s K-12 Task Force — a frustrated math teacher, in particular, who was tired of hearing that dreaded question, says Andy Bushmaker, senior human resources director at KI in Green Bay and the chairman of the task force.

“I think the videos will be a great tool for teachers to help with this,” Bushmaker says. “It seemed like a great way to help teachers show students practical applications for math.”

Bushmaker wrote the scripts for the videos shot at KI, which star a maintenance technician, an automation intern and managers.

One video features whole numbers in action related to building a welding stand for one of KI’s robotic welders. The videos were shot earlier this summer.

“Two of my passions are math and manufacturing,” Bushmaker says. “I do have a degree in math, so it was kind of a great fit for me.”

Bushmaker wants manufacturers to be excited about these videos because they showcase the industry, particularly when more baby boomers are retiring and the skills shortage is growing.

“It’s more critical now than ever to expose young people to manufacturing as a viable career choice,” he says. “Over the next five or six years, we will have about one-third of our workforce at our Green Bay facility retire. Many other companies are seeing the same thing.”

Bushmaker and Franz presented the plan for the math videos during the Wisconsin Math Council in May and the teachers were excited about the production.

“I really think that the teachers who come to this will get a lot out of it, and it’ll be a great event,” Bushmaker says. “Ultimately, my hope is that more and more schools will start using the videos and become aware of them.

“I think it’s a great collaborative effort with both education and manufacturers working together to create something that’s going to be useful to them, the community and manufacturers,” he says.

The event is free for manufacturers and educators.

“Plus, we’re giving some great prizes away,” Franz says.

All math teachers will be entered into a drawing for a $500 cash award for their school and $500 also will be given to a technical education department. Tickets to October’s Manufacturing First Expo & Conference and the K-12 Education Manufacturing Partnership also will be given away.

Also at the event, one local manufacturing company will be selected to be featured in an upcoming math video, each of which costs about $2,000 to produce.

If you go

The Get Real Math Video Premiere will be from 5:30 to 8 p.m. Sept. 30 at the Meyer Theater in downtown Green Bay. The event is free.

See the alliance’s math videos online at