Target Grade Level / Age Range:
Students will practice math skills, learn common agriculture measurements, and learn about the production of corn in Iowa and the U.S.
- Laundry basket filled with 1 bushel of corn as visual.
Suggested Companion Resources (books and websites)
Vocabulary (with definitions)
- Bushel- A unit of measurement. The weight is different for each type of grain but is about 56 lbs of corn, or a small laundry basket full.
- Acre- A unit of land area which farmland is measured in. 1 acre is approximately the size of a football field.
- Exports- Good that are grown or made in the U.S. that are sold to another country.
- Yield- amount of a crop produced on a farm.
- Dent corn- What 99% of the corn grown in Iowa is. It is left to dry on the plant and harvested as a grain. It is used for animal feed, ethanol, corn syrup, and many other products.
- Sweet corn- Picked when it is immature and eaten as a vegetable.
- Popcorn- Corn that has a moisture resistance shell and that will pop when heated.
Background – Agricultural Connections (what would a teacher need to know to be able to teach this content)
Iowa is the top corn producing state and corn production and processing is very important to the Iowa economy. Field corn is different from sweet corn and pop corn. It is used to make 4,000 different products. 39% of U.S. produced corn is used for animal feed and 27% is used for for ethanol. Iowa’s climate and geography makes it an ideal place to produce corn as well as gives it an economic advantage!
When corn is harvested for grain, it is measured in bushels (which is a volumetric unit). Since a bushel is a volume, one bushel of corn will weigh different than a bushel of soybeans or oats! Corn yield is measured in bushels per acre. An acre is an area with 43,560 square feet (approximately the size of one football field). When selecting what types of field corn to plant, hybrids are very important! Some hybrids are more specialized for drought tolerances, insect resistance, larger kernel size, or even taller plants! Through cross breeding, farmers are able to select between hybrids with great hybrid vigor. In order to be a successful farmer, one must understand how to complete the correct calculations pertaining to corn production.
Interest Approach or Motivator
Display a small laundry basket filled with corn as visual. Ask students if they know what this represents. Most students will not have background knowledge. Explain that the laundry basket represents one bushel of corn (approximately 56lbs.). A bushel is a unit of measurement for grains like corn and soybeans.
- Watch: https://www.history.com/shows/modern-marvels/videos/three-things-you-didnt-know-about-corn Ask students:
- What they know about corn production
- What they know about corn processing- i.e. what products they know that are made from corn
- Distribute one copy of the Iowa Corn Production worksheet to each student. Direct students to computers or their personal devices to access websites. Have students conduct research using the provided websites and complete the Iowa Corn Production worksheet, calculating answers as needed.
- Have students compare and discuss answers with a partner.
- Go over answers as a class.
- Have students share several highlights about what they learned about Iowa corn production and processing.
Essential Files (maps, charts, pictures, or documents)
Did you know? (Ag facts)
- Iowa grows more corn than any other state.
- Average size of Iowa farm is 345 acres.
- On average, Iowa grows 183 bushels of corn per acre.
- On average, the U.S. grows 173 bushels of corn per acre.
Extension Activities (how students can carry this beyond the classroom)
- Research how corn is harvested.
- Research where and how corn is processed to make different products.
- Research 10 products that are made by either corn products or by products.
Agriculture Literacy Outcomes
- T1.6-8 g. Recognize how climate and natural resources determine the types of crops and livestock that can be grown and raised for consumption
- T3.6-8i. Identify sources of agricultural products that provide food, fuel, clothing, shelter, medical, and other non-food products for their community, state, and/or nation
- T5.6-8a. a. Consider the economic value of agriculture in America
Iowa Core Standards
- Math Standards:
- 6.NS.B.3 Fluently add, subtract, multiply, and divide multi–digit decimals using the standard algorithm for each operation.
- 6.RP.A.3. Use ratio and rate reasoning to solve real–world and mathematical problems, e.g., by reasoning about tables of equivalent ratios, tape diagrams, double number line diagrams, or equations.
- Find a percent of a quantity as a rate per 100 (e.g., 30% of a quantity means 30/100 times the quantity); solve problems involving finding the whole, given a part and the percent.
- Use ratio reasoning to convert measurement units; manipulate and transform units appropriately when multiplying or dividing quantities.
- Social Studies Standards:
- SS.6.20 Analyze connections among historical events and developments in various geographic and cultural contexts.
- SS.6.23 Compare Iowa’s geography, natural resources and climate to other regions of the world.
- RI.6.7 Integrate information presented in different media or formats (e.g., visually, quantitatively) as well as in words to develop a coherent understanding of a topic or issue.