Thursday, August 2, 2012

The Math Behind the Crops: Part 2

For two weeks earlier this summer, I attended a workshop where we attempted to come up with a curriculum that would take the new Common Core Math Standards and align these standards with the math that's used in manufacturing, health science fields, construction and architecture, agriculture, etc..  We had the opportunity to tour different places in Winnebago and Boone counties.  I toured two manufacturing companies, the Winnebago landfill, the Hulsebus Chiropractic Clinic,the Boone County Farm Bureau, as well as an elevator in Boone County.  All of our visits were VERY interesting, and the people who gave us the tours were very enthusiastic to work with us.  They all stressed the importance of our future generations having a solid math background because math is used EVERYWHERE!
While I didn't neccessarily learn a lot at the Boone County Farm Bureau, I did have fun seeing the inner workings of a grain elevator.  I also greatly appreciated the way the nice lady at the Farm Bureau de-bunked a lot of common ag-related myths to the other members of my group who aren't as "ag-savy" as I consider myself to be. 

The aforementioned nice lady at the Farm Bureau talked to us about grain sales and especially selling grain on the "futures market".  If you're not familiar with the futures market, it works like this:  basically, you watch the market forecasts for the upcoming harvest season and then, based on what you think your projected harvest totals (in bushels) will be, you sell your future crop.  There's a lot more to it, like the "basis", but in general, it's all about gambling that you're going to have a crop and that you'll be able to deliver your crop in the month you sold for.

The day we toured the Farm Bureau and grain elevator, we did the following activity, which I think is part of the "Ag in the Classroom" curriculum that is used in some schools. 

(This website will take you to the printable worksheet, choose "Futures Farming".)
For me, I don't know how much teaching I could do with it, the math is pretty basic.  I think that my high school students would enjoy it, though; perhaps I'll use it on one of those "blow off" days right before Thanksgiving or spring break. 

In a previous post I talked about how our oldest son is taking the "corn" 4-H project.  We sat around the kitchen table the other night and did the "Futures Farming" activity and talked with the boys more about all of the different way we sell our crops.  It was a fun and yummy activity, and most importantly, we all learned something! 


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