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Facility Use Policy

The Virginia Tech Math Emporium is a University facility, and its use is governed by all University regulations. Appropriate use of the Math Emporium facilities includes, but is not limited to, the following expectations: 

The Math Emporium’s facility will be closed during the spring 2021 semester. While it is closed and all resources are available online, please adhere to the guidelines provided in Policy 7000: Acceptable Use and Administration of Computer and Communication Systems. 

Entering the Math Emporium 

Only Virginia Tech faculty, staff, or currently enrolled VT students may use the Math Emporium. A valid VT Hokie Passport ID card must be presented to check in to the facility and to check out at upon departure. Visitors must make previous arrangements with Math Emporium management in order to enter. Children must be under a parent or guardian’s direct supervision and must exhibit orderly behavior at all times. 


Respect other users and staff’s right to study and work in a safe environment, without interference, harassment, or excessive noise. 


Tampering with computer hardware, networking hardware, electrical outlets, and furniture is not permitted. Electrical power strips are available for use at all computer stations, lounge areas, and conference rooms. 

Food, Tobacco, Drinks 

Food, alcohol, and tobacco products are not permitted anywhere in the Math Emporium. Covered, non-alcoholic drinks are permitted in all areas of the Emporium. Canned drinks, including energy drinks, are not considered covered and are not permitted. If you have documented medical need for food, please notify the front desk staff as you enter the Math Emporium. 


In general, if you are not well enough to attend classes, then you should not come to the Emporium. Consult your course homepage for policies regarding illness and follow recommendations from the health center.

If you become ill while you are at the Math Emporium, please adhere to the following guidelines for the comfort and safety of others.

  • If you become ill while you are at the Math Emporium, please notify the front desk staff so that any necessary cleanup can begin as quickly as possible. 
  • If you have any other medical emergency, go directly to the front desk or send someone in your place. It is important for our staff to call 911 for you so that they can direct the emergency personnel when they arrive. 

Personal belongings

Anyone who uses the Math Emporium is responsible for his or her own personal belongings. Found items will be placed in a lost and found area. Inquire at the front check in desk. 

Using the testing center

Students enrolled in courses that use the Math Emporium testing system are required to check in at the entrance to the testing center in addition to checking in to enter the Math Emporium. A valid VT Hokie Passport ID card must be presented at check in. 


Faculty and staff may call upon the University Police if necessary to enforce University facilities regulations. 


More Information 

Users may consult University Policies for further information. 

Policy 5000: University Facilities Usage and Event Approval

Policy 7000: Acceptable Use and Administration of Computer and Communication Systems

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Where is the Math Emporium? 
The Math Emporium is a 15-minute walk from the Virginia Tech drillfield. Nearby VT offices/buildings include the Visitor and Undergraduate Admissions Center, the Language and Culture Institute, University Computing Support, and TLOS.

I will be taking a Math Emporium course as a first-semester freshman in the fall. Is there anything I can do now to help me prepare?
The textbook for your Math Emporium course is free and open for anyone with an internet connection to read.  You are welcome to look it over if you would like to get a head start on the material.  You are encouraged to email your instructor or the Emporium managers (link) with any questions you have.  To be successful in an Emporium course, you must get comfortable with asking questions and engaging with the support that is there for you to succeed.


How do you learn math online?
First, Math Emporium courses are not "online courses" or "distance courses."  In a Math Emporium course, only the textbook and testing materials are delivered online. Videos are being added to courses in various places, so be sure to take advantage of them.  Everything else is face-to-face human contact. Your teacher is available if you need help with a math problem or advice making progress in the course. You can also use the help sessions.  Most importantly, you have tutors available to help you make progress on the practice problems.


How are students tested in a Math Emporium course?
The testing system in a Math Emporium course is designed to encourage and reward students for solving math problems. Also recognizing that students learn at different rates and on individual schedules, it provides a means for to prepare as much or as little as necessary for any quiz or exam. While there are weekly deadlines, students can and should work ahead.  The day of a deadline is not a good time to learn new material.

To prepare for the graded work, students can complete an unlimited number of practice problems that are randomly-generated from the same pool of questions as the graded quizzes. Some students only need to complete a few practice quiz problems each week, while others may complete 100 or more. We also suggest that they look over their past work, because after it is graded, a hint appears in each problem along with a link to a corresponding online lesson to review.


How can I get help if I find myself struggling?
In a Math Emporium course, students are given the opportunity to receive help in the manner and schedule that best fits their individual needs. However, students are not forced to study or practice problems.  It is important to work smart and work hard.  Your instructor can help you with determining if you are working efficiently and enough to do well in the course.


What can I expect from the Math Emporium tutors?
Every part of a Math Emporium course, including the interactive online textbook, the help provided at the Emporium, and the entire testing process, is designed with one thing in mind: students learn math by actively doing math, not by passively watching others do math.

Many lessons in the text contain interactive animations that encourage student involvement and every example solution includes several guided steps for students to check their progress as they go along.

This interactive process continues at the Math Emporium. The Instructional Assistants attend intensive training sessions where they learn ways to help students solve problems on their own. If you ask someone for help, they will probably start asking questions in return to determine where the confusion lies. They may offer to explain a similar example in an online lesson, or provide a hint to proceed further, but they are trained not to write down a full solution. While most students think they would prefer a full written solution, we know from experience that it does not give them the skills they need to solve later problems on their own.

Help sessions are an exception to this, as teachers will work out problems for students to see in these sessions.  


I have anxiety about my math class. What can I do?
Effective time management and learning to cope with stress effectively are important life skills that we develop in college.  This is a process though and is not something that many freshmen have figured out, yet.  Some tips for successfully dealing with anxiety can include forming a study group with peers to keep accountability and provide moral support when you are frustrated, engage in healthy recreational activities, contact Cook Counseling or the Dean of Students if anxiety becomes debilitating, and stay in contact with your advisor as much as possible to discuss your successes and struggles.  VT offers many programs and resources to help students succeed so keep your eye out for them and look for them if you need some help.