Math and Economics at the Farmers Market

There’s still nothing like experiencing math in the context of of simple cash purchases. I say “still” because of the plethora of available extra-curricular math resources like competitions, online programs, manipulatives, etc. In our age dominated by credit card and online purchases, many kids don’t have the opportunity to develop the skills of making simple arithmetic computations in real time while talking to people. The computations themselves are easy, but when you have to make them while simultaneously looking inside your wallet to see if you have enough money, which bills to use, how much change is needed, and interacting with the vendor, this becomes a very different experience than doing problems at a table with a pen and a piece of paper. And then there’s the added aspect of evaluating sellers’ incentives. That yellow sign way over to the right advertises Hass avocados for $2 each or 3 for $5. How much money does each avo cost us if  we buy 3 of them as opposed to one or two? This is a fairly typical question students are asked in school, but it’s a whole other matter to make it quickly, in your head, while talking to the vendor. Is the discount on 3 worth it for me– meaning do I like avocados enough to buy that many? This mathematical experience is easily attainable by visiting your local farmers market with your child and having him/her pay for all the purchases. Plus, the fresh fruit and vegetables can’t be all that bad for your brain!



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