The last few weeks at East Chilliwack elementary have been like an episode of Apprentice – except with much younger proteges.
Students in Carol Rogers’ Grade 4-5 class were challenged to design a product they could sell at the school’s first ever young entrepreneur fair.
It was part of a project-based learning initiative that would not only tap into student creativity, but also promote math and oral language skills.
“Instead of sitting in a class learning about math, we actually put it into play,” said Rogers. “It gave students an opportunity to be creative and to learn how to start a business.”
For six weeks, students had to design a product, develop a business plan, take out a loan, manufacture their merchandise, and market it. They had to set goals, write product descriptions, figure out operating costs, develop financial plans, and predict their profits.
“It was a lot of work,” said Grade 5 student Moniek Middelburg, who was up until 2 a.m. the night before the fair, finishing up.
Middelburg wanted to reach as many consumers as she could. And so, instead of marketing just one design, she went all out, creating hair clips, bookmarks, stress balls, decorated pencils, cookies and more.
In total, she grossed $100.55, and took home $72.50.
Other student-designed merchandise included duct tape wallets, bottle cap jewelry, balloon animals, homemade journals, wheat bags, and baked goods.
Some students integrated their own skills into their designs, whereas others researched different products online, and learned new skills like how to make balloon animals and duct tape wallets.
“I was trying to think of what the best idea would be and it hit me, what do all kids like – balloon animals,” said Grade 5 student Lucas Santangelo, who learned how to make swords, flowers, whales, snakes, dogs, and even a monkey on a palm tree by watching YouTube videos.
Santangelo grossed $102 and took home $61.
Grade 4 student Aidan Burke had initially planned on opening a bakery, but after learning that several other students were planning on doing the same, he became a popcorn vendor instead.
“I thought there were too many people doing baking; what were the odds they’d come to mine and not others,” said Burke.
To best market his goods, he employed his mom to man the popcorn booth, while he sauntered around the classroom with a crate full of aromatic popcorn bags.
“A lot of people got real hungry smelling it,” said Burke.
Burke grossed $50 and took home $23.45.
The entrepreneurs took out loans from their parents to purchase materials for their products, and to stock floats for the start of the fair, which they had to pay back.
As well, they all committed to donating 10 per cent of their earnings to local charity Pacific Riding for Developing Abilities.
In total, they raised $96.64 for PRDA.
Some students are already talking about continuing their business ventures, setting up booths at the local farmers’ markets during the summer months.