A Field Study in Math Picking Strawberries

By Holly Giles | Florida

math
 In my book, Blaze New Trails, I devote a chapter to U-pick farms. I share how food can teach math in a hands-on way.

 

Two families joined us and we jumped right into strawberry math at Oak Haven Strawberry Farm.
Our goal is to find out how many strawberry plants are on the farm and how much does one strawberry cost.

I love going to Oak Haven farms. We have been coming here for over five years. I am never disappointed in the fruit we pick and sharing time with friends makes it all the sweeter. Now, how can you turn a day of picking fruit into a math school lesson?
We will start big and end up small with our numbers.  I brought an activity worksheet I created for the kids to figure out as we went along.

First, we need to know how many plants are in one row.  Luke and Ethan took that challenge and began counting as our beginning math lesson.  The average number of plants in one row is 460 strawberry plants.

Next, we needed to find out how many rows were on the farm altogether.  Ella, Emma, Caroline, and Crockett took that task.  We averaged that there were 236 rows of strawberries planted on the farm.  With these two numbers, we can find out how many
total plants are here at Oak Haven Farms.  With multiplication, we figured there were 108,560 plants on the farm.  Wow, that is a lot of berries!

What have we done so far

1.  We have counted plants and rows
2.  We have multiplied those together to find the total number of plants
3.  We, of course, have sampled the fruit by now to make sure it is fit to eat.
4.  The children have run the rows and counting, good exercise.

After filling our flat of berries, we went to the store for them to be weighed and to pay for them.  Our flat was 9.1 pounds and the cost was $23.13.  How much are the berries per pound?  Crockett does a division problem to discover that the berries are $2.49 per pound.  Cowboy worked out the amount of change we need back on his fingers from the $30 I paid for our berries.
We count it out to be sure he has figured correctly.
All the families met at a picnic table for snacks, fill in their worksheets and draw pictures of the berries.  The kids had fun. They enjoyed working the numbers and looking out onto the field to really see what 108,560 strawberry plants looked like. This is real life, hands on math.  We had nine children from the ages of 5 to 12 and each one had a part in figuring out the numbers and
information we needed for the worksheet.
After a break, we now wanted to find our smallest number we were after today.  How much does ONE strawberry cost? 
First, we weighed out one pound of strawberries. Next, we counted how many strawberries were in that pound.
Finally, we divided the price per pound by how many strawberries to find the answer.
The kids discovered there were 23 strawberries in a pound, which made one strawberry approximately 11 cents.  For some reason that seemed like a lot to us moms! Yet nothing beats a fresh ripe strawberry.

In part two we will share what we did with all those strawberries! We will show you how to can them, dry them and easy strawberry jam recipes.

Have you visited a farm? We would love to hear about it. We want to know where to pick strawberries in other states. Share with us how you did “math” and the discoveries you made.

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