a journal of our edible education

Watermelon Math – Part One

Suppose you had a watermelon patch of a certain size and in that patch your vines had managed to to produce three watermelons.  What could you learn from that patch.  If this were an average watermelon patch with an average rate of production, you could reasonably conclude that the ratio of the size of that patch to the number of fruit produced in it, would be consistent regardless of scale.   If this sounds pretty dry, so far, perhaps it is because you are not standing in a watermelon patch.  Putting yourself right in the middle of a word problem (excuse the hyperbole) changes everything.  The first thing that changes is the “will this be on the test?” mentality.  Math becomes a conversation springing from curiosity and not a lecture.  The students become the ones asking the questions and the teacher starts guiding rather than dragging.  This is what edible education is all about and this is what math in the garden looks like.


If it takes this much space to produce three watermelons, how much space would I need to produce just one, or ten, or fifty?



Times Width

Times Width





What does a square foot look like? How many square inches are in a square foot?

What does a square foot look like? How many square inches are in a square foot?


This was just the beginning.  These students learned something more important than the answers to specific math problems.  They started to see how math can be applied.  After all, what good is information without application?   Hopefully there will be more to learn from these watermelons.  Maybe if we put one watermelon on a train headed west from Chicago and another on a train headed east from San Francisco ……..


2 responses

  1. What a fresh and relevant way to learn. I continue to be amazed by the edible schoolyard and am so delighted for those who are benefitting from it. This is where knowledge becomes more than facts and figures to regurgitate and is incorporated into life! Thank you, OJA!!!

    September 11, 2013 at 4:31 pm

  2. Dan Tilstra

    Thanks to our Master Gardner for working with such diligence, and so consistently and with such intention to bring these amazing opportunities to the students at OJA

    September 14, 2013 at 11:24 am

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