September Theme:  Math in Food & Agriculture

12 Months of Math

Have you ever stopped to think about where all the food you eat comes from? Someone had to grow the plants and raise the animals used to make the food we eat every day. It takes a lot of work and energy to get the food from the farms to your table. We explore many of the ways math is used in farming, fishing, and food and beverage processing.

Food is big business, so we are highlighting a number of different careers in agriculture and the food industry this month. In Parent’s Corner, there are agriculture themed examples of how to use age appropriate language to talk to your kids about math. Find interesting videos, fun games, and local activities around food and agriculture inside.

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Parents' Corner

Math Talk

Topic:  Use age appropriate language to talk to your child about math.

Infants listen to every word they hear. Their ability to say words and understand how those words relate to the physical world develops daily.

Counting is a basic vocabulary/math concept. Try counting out loud during meal or play time. “How many crackers do we have? 1, 2, 3, 4, 5.” Touch each piece as you count. Your child will begin to understand the relationship between objects and numbers.

Toddlers are learning to “show” numbers. They may learn the number 2 can be shown with 2 fingers. “How old are you.” Instead of saying he is 2 years old, he holds up 2 fingers.

Toddlers enjoy playing with objects they can build and arrange. Showing your child a set of 3 objects say, “I have 3 blocks. Can you show me three blocks?” As they collect their own 3 blocks, you can help count while touching each of their blocks, counting 1, 2, 3.

Preschoolers are beginning to use their understanding of their environment to problem solve. They have new vocabulary and knowledge about their surroundings. This is the time to let them be creative in their thinking.

Ask your child open ended questions about counting, addition, or time. Give her plenty of time to think, then listen to the explanation. Focus on the thought process more than the “correct” answer. “How many donuts do you think we will need?”

Your school-age child will have math input from a wider variety of sources including parents, siblings, grandparents, friends, and now professional educators. This is the time to really engage them in your everyday math. Estimating how much things cost, or planning daily schedules using concepts of time or distance, are regular events to get your child thinking.

Present real math problems to your child. “Our dinner costs $12.50. If I give the cashier a twenty dollar bill, how much change should I get back?” Remember to give your child time to think, then ask how they got their answer. Talk about their explanation and share your thinking as well.

Agriculture Math Talk

Here’s a fun fact to start:
Different breeds of sheep yield different amounts of wool, ranging from 2 to 30 (!) pounds per fleece. It takes about 2.5 pounds of wool to knit one sweater, depending on the size and tightness of the weave.
Imagine a farmer has a sheep that produces 12 pounds of wool. How many sweaters could she knit if each sweater only uses 2 pounds of wool?
Events and Activities

Math in Agriculture Events

Sunday, September 15, 2-4pm

Ever wonder how tall a horse is?  What does the measurement known as “hands” mean?  How many hands tall are you? Answer these questions and more about how math is used in Agriculture and Food with 12 Months of Math!

Math in Agriculture Activities

Friday, September 14, 2018, 8:30am-3:30pm: Visitors to the State Fair on “Science & Technology Day” can drop in at the Agriculture Building for fun Growing with Math activities.
Career Connections

The United States is one of the world’s largest producers, consumers, exporters, and importers of agricultural products. The agricultural industry is comprised of several categories including: farming, forestry and fishing, food and beverage processing and packages, textile, apparel and leather manufacturing, and food and beverages stores and eating places. The agricultural industry as defined contributes nearly $1 trillion to the national economy and just over 21 million jobs.

Do farmers use math?

They sure do, all day long. Farmers use units of time, measurement, estimation, money, proportion, geometry, and numerical labeling for seed, cattle, and equipment. Read more about Math on the Farm.

Here are a few of the math-related careers that are a part of the agricultural industry:

Agronomist: In this career you may study soil quality and characteristics, and research how to improve soil use and conservation.

Horticulturist: In this career you may work with plants of all kinds to study how each grows best, improving on growing practices, or genetics testing for plants.

Nutritionist: In this career you may examine the impact of various food on animals and humans. You may make discoveries on benefits or dangers in food consumption.

Read an extensive Math in Agriculture Careers compiled by the Florida Dept. of Agriculture and Consumer Services

Fun Online Resources

Thanks to our Title Sponsors:

Color Explora Logo iHeart Media intel NSF logo

12 Months of Math, a project of STEM-NM, is a city-wide initiative designed to explore and celebrate math’s importance to our community and in our lives. 12 Months of Math will provide community-based, culturally-relevant, multilingual family math programs for the public. Each month of math will focus on a selected theme and will provide math activities in a real-world context, supported by local business and organizations whose work relates to the month’s theme. 12 Months of Math brings together the varied expertise of partner organizations and coordinates efforts to bring about significant improvement in children’s math outcomes.

STEM-NM is New Mexico’s nationally-designated STEM Learning Ecosystem, working to increase the prosperity of our community by engaging students and preparing them for jobs in our local science, technology, and health care sectors.

This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. 1744541. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.

12 Months of Math is looking for math events and opportunities to engage New Mexico families. If you would like to share math information with us please fill in this contact form.

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