While they can’t drive or legally hold a job yet, CMDS fifth graders already have learned a lot about the grown-up world, including how to fill out an employment application and pay off a business loan.
Fifth grade has been exploring different economic concepts in their social studies class through JA BizTown, a program of Junior Achievement of Memphis and the Mid-South Inc.
The program teaches kids how to use debit cards, write a business plan and record transactions. It teaches them how to consider their own personal skill sets and fill out job applications. Balancing a checkbook and writing checks are skills the kids honed as part of the program’s math component.
About halfway through the class, students are given jobs and put into businesses. As part of those positions, they design a logo and slogan; create a radio ad; complete a loan application; and complete a philanthropy pledge.
And after about eight weeks of classroom prep, CMDS fifth grade was ready for its big simulation day at JA BizTown, a fully interactive city where students put the skills they’ve learned in the classroom to work – literally.
Our fifth graders attended the BizTown simulation day Friday, April 8, and were CEOs, CFOs, sales managers and bank tellers at a number of local businesses, including First Tennessee Bank, Smith & Nephew, FedEx, Orgill, MassMutual, AutoZone, iHeartMedia and ServiceMaster.
Throughout the intense simulation day, students worked hard to keep the city going. They even acted as responsible citizens and cast ballots on town issues.
Throughout the entire experiential learning process, students are actively engaged in posing questions, investigating, expressing curiosity, solving problems, working on teams and assuming responsibility. BizTown helps them understand the value of money and the connection between learning and earning.
And while not every business succeeds in paying off their loan at simulation day, the students leave the experience with the satisfaction that comes from a hard day’s work.
One fifth grader, when asked about the BizTown experience, said she learned, “what my parents feel like at their job.”