Farmers markets and fairs as venues for doing math in rural settings

November 27th, 2018 | RESEARCH

This paper describes innovative ways of bringing mathematical learning into community venues in rural settings. We selected highly engaging mathematical activities, adapted them for middle school youth and their families, and brought them to the “locavore” contexts of Farmers Markets and community agricultural fairs. “STEM Guides”—community people hired to connect youth with local STEM resources—set up math-oriented booths at local Farmers Markets and fairs. They enlisted visitors in weighing produce, comparing weights of typical fruits/vegetables to record-weighing produce, and composing community-supported agriculture (CSA) baskets with specified ratios of different types of produce. Pilot findings from four trials with 91 participants are reported. Specifically, we examine: 1) features of participant engagement; and 2) ways of matching venues with meaningful place-based mathematics, in this case, measurement and mental mathematics. This work demonstrates that it is possible to start with a local venue, identify key mathematical concepts that are woven into this venue, and incorporate mathematics that appeals to a variety of participants. We discuss the idea of important and familiar mathematics reflecting community activities and settings; and the benefits of making math more of a place-based, community-oriented enterprise.


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Team Members

Jan Mokros, Author, Maine Mathematics and Science Alliance
Jennifer Atkinson, Author, Maine Mathematics and Science Alliance


Identifier Type: DOI
Identifier: 10.15695/jstem/v1i1.23
Identifier Type: ISSN
Identifier: 2576-6767

Publication: Journal of STEM Outreach
Volume: 1
Number: 1
Page(s): 1-10


Funding Source: NSF
Funding Program: AISL
Award Number: 1322827
Funding Amount: $2,690,708

Related URLs

Full Text
STEM Guides: Building Coherent Infrastructure in Rural Communities


Access and Inclusion: Rural
Audience: Elementary School Children (6-10) | Middle School Children (11-13) | Museum | ISE Professionals | Youth | Teen (up to 17)
Discipline: Mathematics
Resource Type: Peer-reviewed article | Research Products
Environment Type: Public Events and Festivals | Public Programs