Thursday, 18 September 2008

Teaching the mathematics of world food

Intrigued by a Saskatchewan teacher's request for a maths problem about world food distribution, we found the following resources. Thanks for suggestions to Bill Curry of Prairie MM, Professors JoAnn Jaffe and Daryl Hepting of the University of Regina.

In Oxfam's Hunger Banquet, guests draw lots to be "born" into a high-, middle-, or low-income part of the world based on World Bank Development Indicators.
  • 15% with high-income are served a luxurious meal
  • 35 % with middle-income get a plate of rice and beans
  • 50 % (the world's poor) must glean small portions of rice and water for themselves; recent economic studies suggest that at least 1/3 of their food should be taken away and burned in a container marked "biofuel"
The guests may play the role of a specific person at their income level. After the meal, all guests are invited to share their thoughts. Few participants leave with full stomachs, but all possess a greater understanding of the problems of hunger and poverty and are motivated to do something about them.

Catholic lessons A-R-T "Just eating"
Protestant lessons Food for the hungry
NatGeog: (Gr 10) compare 4 different food cultures and plan a restaurant for each. Also : cross-cultural assignments for other grades; (Gr 1-8) educator's toolkit: garden activities, nutrition, companion plants, living machine etc.
Foodtimeline: (Gr K-12) food history lessons.
Friends Testimonies on Economics (Gr 10-12) Vol. I "fundamental economic concepts" and "sustainable agriculture"; Vol. I "Trees as metaphor" for I=PAT, exponential growth in "The king and the wise man", eco-economics, markets and barcodes, Vol. III p.40+ "Population issues"
Are humans smarter than yeast? video on exponential growth
SOS Children's Villages: nursery school garden project in Malawi to meet the food crisis
UNICEF Canada's school-in-a-box food aid
Save the Children Canada School Link for international discussions
UN World Food Programme; its free educational game Food Force
Craig and Marc Kielburger's Free the Children; e.g. their project in Gansu, China.
Previous postings on food in this blog.
KAIROSCanada's with resources in English & français

Advanced users can access FAO statistics country-by-country. as well as some aggregate data on food and agriculture that can be manipulated on site. See also agricultural production data, to select by country, continent or world; World Bank statistics and WB's World Development Report on agriculture 2008. More lesson plans on peace, environment and social justice - in English and French.

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