Steward’s annual Mini-Economy Market Day is the culmination of lessons that encourage fourth-graders to think strategically about finance and entrepreneurship. Coordinated by Grade 4 Teacher Chris Tickle, budding entrepreneurs study the basics of microeconomics and then design, manufacture, and plan the sales of their very own products.
Bubbling With Excitement
Early in the course, the students in all three of Mr. Tickle’s fourth-grade classes had a contest to create a name for their economy.
“In the past, we've had economies named Cashopolis and The United States of Goodmanickle. This year’s economy name was Scrub a Dub Dub, Bubs in the Tub,” noted Mr. Tickle. After the name of the economy was decided, students submitted ideas for money and flag designs and once again cast their votes. This year's flag featured a bathtub and bubbles, and the currency was aptly named Bubble Bucks. A prize of 25 Bubble Bucks was awarded to the winner of each naming contest.
Budgeting and Research
Students were each given an $8 budget to spend on materials to create an original product, and they engaged in market research to learn how to price their products accordingly.
Mr. Tickle explained, “Students brought in a prototype of their product, picked several possible price points, and surveyed their peers to get data on the possibilities of sales at these different prices. They were encouraged to pay attention to forces in the market during Market Day and to adjust their prices up or down according to how their sales were going.”
Students were also responsible for using their Bubble Bucks to purchase products from each other. In addition, they had the option of saving their Bubble Bucks to buy special treats provided by faculty. Treats ranged from extra reading time (with brownies!) to lunch with the Junior Kindergarteners.
From Vision to Fruition
On April 7, fourth-graders hosted a Market Day to “sell” their products to faculty, staff, parents, and other students. As the young entrepreneurs exuberantly pitched and sold their products, some even negotiated their prices to customers who found themselves short on Bubble Bucks! Happy buyers could choose from a variety of products and services: hand-painted birdhouses, 3D-printed animals, homemade slime, jewelry, and much more. One industrious pair of entrepreneurs set up a bowling alley and charged customers to play.
Lessons of Value
Nico Weldon ’30, who sold handmade beaded items, said, “Something I learned is that it's not all about the product, it's about how you sell it to your customers.” Nico’s designs included flamingoes and the Ukrainian flag. Laurel Kauffman ’30, who sold flower seeds under the name Laurel’s Florals, expressed herself in a true gardener’s terms: “I learned to grow into success, not force it.”
“The study of economics teaches students how we have to make important choices in our lives,” said Mr. Tickle. “We want our students to learn from this experience and understand that when you work hard, you can be successful.” Kudos to these young Spartans, who will have additional opportunities throughout Middle School and Upper School to gain entrepreneurial skills that will last a lifetime.