Networking in a Grocery Store


Networking in a Grocery Store is a field study to the local Kroger Grocery Store. The object of the study is to understand how networking is part of our everyday routine.

This field study is designed as a conclusion to the second year integrated mathematics textbook. It looks heavily on using networking skills as part of the students’ everyday lives as well as providing a context for other key mathematical concepts.

This unit of field study is specifically designed as supplemental material for a 10th grade integrated mathematics classroom at Northside High School in Warner Robins, Georgia. This particular school evenly balances both male/female and majority/minority demographics. The school also represents students from diverse geographical areas due to the large number of students whose parents are in the military. We chose a grocery store that is popular in that area, but any store would be sufficient. This field study could also be easily modified to suit the cultural differences in other high school classrooms.

Site Contact Information:


Kroger Epps Bridge Road Athens, Ga


Matthew Moon {} Assistant Front End Manager Kroger Dacula, Ga

Field Trip Arrangements:

Mr. Moon was able to set up a time for our class to meet at the Athens Kroger. We secured a copy of the layout (map) of the Kroger store and arranged to have the class use the conference room at Kroger. At the store we set up a VCR and TV and were asked to have groups of 3 or less students together when walking throughout the store.

Once at Kroger, Mr. Moon shared with the class a brief new employee orientation routine. We watched videos that shared the history of Kroger as well as goals the store sets for the community. Mr. Moon then answered questions the class had about sales, costs, competition that Kroger experiences. After this introduction the class was split into groups, each with a shopping list and a map of the store. Their task was to find the items on the list and mark their location on the map.

Mathematical Lessons:

The primary vision of this unit of field study is further exploration of networking.

Networking relates explicitly to the NCTM geometry standards. The students are able to "use visualization, spatial reasoning, and geometric modeling to solve problems" (p. 308). This unit can also be applied to areas beyond networking. If we add an element of deciding how much of each product the class will need to buy or consider the cost of different brands of items then we begin to exercise the students fluency in operations with real numbers, one of the NCTM number and operation standards. We can also explore the business aspect of Kroger and touch on the skills required by the Algebra standard of NCTM.

We have decided to explore briefly these three specific lesson ideas that can be covered with this single unit of field study.

Lesson 1: Networking in the Aisles

Day 1: Conclude discussion of networks. General review of what the class has learned. Introduce the problem. Discuss preliminary details of the problem and hypothesize about the results. Problem: The class is having an end-of —the year party. As a class we need to decide on what items we will need for our party.

Day 2: Field trip at Kroger. After a brief orientation and question/answer time with a Kroger manager the class is divided into groups of 2-3 students. Each group receives a portion of the shopping list they made in class the previous day. The groups are also given a map on which they are told to mark the location of each item as it is found.

Day 3: Reflecting on the field trip and making some mathematical conclusions. Each group is required to sketch a vertex-edge graph using the paths they took at the grocery store. They are then asked if they could have used a simpler path. The student will then need to graph these new paths. The students are then asked to combine al l of their item locations onto one map. The next activity would be to design the best route for the teacher to use if he/she was buying all of the items on the list. There will also be discussion of factors that could change the results of their shortest paths, i.e. new displays in the middle of the isles, long lines at the register, etc.

Lesson 2: How much do we buy? How much do we pay?

This is an extension to the networking activity. The layout is the same, but with a modification with the actually task and follow-up discussion.

Day 1: Same as before with added discussion about how much of each item the class will need depending on the size of the class and what kinds of food each person wants to eat, etc.

Day 2: After the orientation with the manager, the students tasks will be to not only mark the location of the item on the list, but also to mark the quantity of the packaged items and the prices of a national brand and the store brand.


Day 3: Not only will the class be able to discuss networking, but they will also gain practical experience with number operations. The new tasks will be deciding how much money the class will need to spend. They will do cost comparisons between different brands as well as altering their lists to suit various class budgets, i.e. $50 or $100.


Lesson 3:

Day 1: In-class discussion of the properties of linear functions. Mention of economic principles such as supply-demand, cost-profit that exhibit such properties.

Day 2: Field trip to Kroger. Orientation with manager with extended discussion about the business aspects of operating a Kroger store. Questions should cover, profit, costs, advertisement, coupons, customer satisfaction, competition, etc. This trip will also involve touring the aisles of Kroger to observe the different costs and strategic layout of the store.

Day 3: This assignment could realistically be extended as a multiple day design.

The students will have an opportunity to examine specific numbers about the information they learned at Kroger. They will need to graphically analyze the data and find solutions to question concerning how Kroger could maximize profit/minimize loss.


The students will be assessed primarily on their participation in the activities that follow the field trip. They will be required to answer specific mathematical questions as mentioned in the lesson plans as well as respond in writing about how they were able to experience mathematics in context.

Picnic Networking. Click for PDF file.



The Department of Mathematics Education
University of Georgia