5th graders experience economics in action
Friendly Hills, Heritage 5th graders experience economics in action at simulated business community
Posted on 01/16/2014

Students in 5th grade at Friendly Hills and Heritage E-STEM Magnet middle schools learn about micro-economics each year through their social studies classes. This year, however, students had the opportunity to move outside their classroom and learn about the thrills and challenges of running a business through a unique simulated experience. The students spent a day at BizTown, a 10,000 square foot, kid-sized city within the Junior Achievement of the Upper Midwest headquarters in Maplewood, an organization that offers various youth educational programs.

Before going to Junior Achievement (JA) BizTown, students at Friendly Hills and Heritage learned about calculating the costs of running a business, understanding market economics, setting personal finance goals and more through curriculum designed by JA BizTown. The lessons align with the Minnesota Social Studies Economics Standards, and prepare students with the background knowledge and skills they need to successfully “run a business” within the simulated BizTown community. 

When students participated in the simulation at the BizTown site each was assigned a role as an employee in a business, such as a restaurant, government organization, retail store, construction firm or newspaper. Student workers were “paid” for their labor and received paychecks in fictitious personal checking accounts. As part of the simulation, they practiced managing their income and making choices on how to spend their money as consumers.

“It is never too early for students to begin learning about personal finance, the importance of saving, and their role as consumers and creators in the marketplace,” said Sarah Lind, Friendly Hills 5th grade teacher. “The experience provided students with the opportunity to get a glimpse of all of those features in a hands-on way.”

Prentice Smith, 5th grade teacher at Heritage, said the experience was positive for students and really helped them understand how businesses operate in real life, both behind-the-scenes and up-front with customers. The economics lessons the students learned at JA BizTown extend to other areas of study too. For example, students will apply the business and economics principles from BizTown on a larger scale as they study North American exploration and development, Smith said.

 “Overall, students loved the BizTown experience,” he said. “We hope to do this every year.”

Some photos taken by students during their experience at BizTown:

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