Getting Started

If you'd like to host a Math On-A-Stick style event at your own state or county fair, health fair, farmer's market, etc. you're going to have to work with the hosting event. The main things they'll want to know from you are:

  1. How you will get volunteers, and 
  2. What your budget will be.

For getting volunteers, we recommend partnering with a local organization, such as your State or Local NCTM affiliate. Other possible partners include a local Scout council, or a local science museum.

For budgeting, think about if you will need to buy, or if you already have access to, the additional materials listed below.


In addition to the materials for the actual stations you plan to set up, think about if you will need (and where you can get):

  • Tables and a tent or umbrellas to create shade (note: we had folding tables customized for us, adding a small lip around the edge of each table to keep materials from falling off).
  • Small stools or chairs for volunteers
  • Water for volunteers
  • The materials for the actual stations you will use
  • Plastic storage bins or tubs to organize the materials in
  • Cleaning materials such as Lysol wipes for the tables
  • Name tags for the volunteers
  • Decorations, including a big sign to welcome people into your space
  • Math books and games, like Which One Doesn't Belong, for participants to look through
  • Business cards or handouts for participants to take away with information about your organization and how to continue the conversations


Recruiting volunteers is the most important part of getting prepared! A great volunteer to recruit first is the volunteer coordinator -- they can organize who is signing up for which shifts, remind people the night before their shifts, and prepare the volunteer check-in station/process. It's also important to have some lead volunteers who can attend for multiple days, take longer shifts, and who are responsible for making sure the day goes smoothly, coordinating with the event hosts, and helping the volunteers understand the importance of letting the kids play (not forcing our math ideas onto them).

When volunteers showed up on site, we gave them their nametags (thoughtfully organized in advance, by shifts, and placed in a binder with pockets), and a volunteer handout for their station. We organized the volunteer handouts by shift too, so when someone showed up they just got the first handout from the top of the pile, and that was their station. We helped the first shift of the day get oriented, and then each shift that left was responsible for orienting their replacements. We recruited people to do 3-hour shifts each day. It took a lot of volunteers, but we had no trouble finding them -- people were excited to play math with kids!