May 17, 2005
Business was brisk Monday for fourth-graders in Muffy Askelson’s economics class at Chandler’s Santan K-8 Campus.
With summer around the corner, young entrepreneurs in the school’s gifted program had to clear all inventory from a free enterprise project that generated nearly $2,000 for charity this semester.
Hand-woven bracelets and chokers previously marked at $1.50 sold fast at 75 cents. Homemade stress balls (party balloons filled with sand) went for 50 cents. And silk flower pens worth $1 last week dropped to 75 cents.
"This hands-on unit turned out to be more than I could have possibly imagined in the beginning," Askelson said. "One thing led to another. Midway through, the students were required to write a stockholders report to present at a stockholders meeting."
Askelson’s 28 students divided themselves into nine companies in February, elected officers and drafted business plans. They considered issues such as labor needs, marketing, overhead, supply and demand.
"Companies just don’t start," 10-year-old participant M.J. Smith said. "You have to get stockholders and investors."
Each business sold stocks for $1 each to teachers, relatives and the principal for start-up revenue. Then the students set up shop on the playground, and money started rolling in.
"They couldn’t keep their products in stock at first," Askelson said. "They never thought they could make this much money."
The children said they also learned about customer relations and working with business partners.
"Sometimes people don’t do what they say they’re going to do," fourth-grader Rachel Furphy said. "And sometimes people steal things."
Fourth-grader Fernando Mauricio, 10, said he learned that entrepreneurs need patience.
"If customers are annoying, you have to deal with it," he said.
The students will donate their earnings next week to charitable organizations such as child crisis centers, the American Cancer Society and the American Red Cross.