Students explore agriculture using math skills

11/9/2013

By ANGIE HAFLICH

By ANGIE HAFLICH

ahaflich@gctelegram.com

The great outdoors was brought indoors Friday at Victor Ornelas Elementary School as students learned about agriculture, while applying the math lessons they have been studying.

"Farm Bureau and Victor Ornelas are teaming up to help the kids realize that agriculture is the heart of Garden City and Finney County and western Kansas and the world. And we're trying to incorporate math because it's such a big part of that — of the agricultural world — so we're getting math and agriculture put together," said Dianna Deniston, Title I interventionist at the school.

Deniston coordinated the first-ever event, which was sponsored by the Finney County Farm Bureau. Students from Garden City Community College's Collegiate Farm Bureau program, along with local farmers, led a variety of activities in which students used math hands-on in exercises involving milo, soybeans, corn, apples, pumpkins, tractor tires and more.

"Teachers are coming in during their math block and at other times during the day," Deniston said.

Using buckets, Collegiate Farm Bureau students Sammie Leeds and Zach Leininger showed the students the way different careers are linked to farming, and how it takes each to assist farmers in getting crops from the field to the grain bins.

"It's how everybody works together to be successful and to help the farmers, how one depends on the other," Deniston said. "It's kind of like a life cycle for the farmer."

There also was a giant earth balloon, which stood 18 feet tall.

"The Natural Resources Conservation Service is who has the earth balloon, and the kids are actually able to go inside and the earth is on the inside too," said Jennifer Gerber, Finney County Farm Bureau coordinator.

Not only were students able to observe the outside of the earth, they could climb in it and get a better perspective of the continents and water.

Carmen Rhodes of the Finney County Conservation District and Meghan Irwin of the Haskell County Conservation District manned the balloon, instructing students on how to enter and exit safely.

Irwin said they were able to show the students a number of mathematical applications with the earth balloon.

"The blue represents the water, so we asked them, 'How much of the earth is water? What percentage?' and 'So that leaves what percentage for land and of that land, which one do you think is above the equator, and which is below the equator?'" Irwin said.

Nine-year-old Roger Benitez said he was surprised by the amount of water on earth.

"It's mostly water," he said.

He and his classmate, 10-year-old Aaron Segovia, said they had learned a lot from Ag Math Harvest Day and that the activities helped them understand the importance of math.

At another station, Roger and Aaron said they measured corn stalks.

"We did how long would it be, how many people would fit in the corn stalks," Roger said.

Depending on the grade level, each station taught different lessons to students.

"With the pumpkins, the older kids are measuring circumference. The younger kids are just ranking them from smallest to tallest," Gerber said, referring to the pumpkin patch station.

Deniston said the event is aimed toward teaching students how to apply math to real-world situations. It also helped them understand what agriculture means to the area.

Too often, Gerber said, that importance is underestimated.

"I mean, so many of these kids' parents work at Tyson, agriculture. They drive a truck, agriculture. Their dad is a banker, agriculture." she said. "They're all tied to ag one way or another."

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