Rockland Woods fifth-graders get hands-on experience running a business

Economic fair gives students a chance to show off their entrepreneurial skills

April 11, 2012|By CALEB CALHOUN |
  • Erykah Damico shows Pencil Palace entrepreneurs, from left, Akif Yilmaz, Andrew Mack and Dawson Domer, what she wishes to purchase, an eraser, with her Tiger Tokens at the second annual economic fair Wednesday at Rockland Woods Elementary.
By Yvette May, Staff Photographer

The fifth-grade students at Rockland Woods Elementary School south of Hagerstown created a free market economy of their own this week.

“I’ve learned there are going to be challenges running a business,” fifth-grader Ashley Kopp of Hagerstown said Wednesday. “It’s probably best to have a corporation so you’re not doing all the work by yourself.”

The school is holding its second annual economics fair this week. The fifth-grade students had to come up with a business idea and put it into action to sell to other students and teachers.

The business could be goods- or services-based, and the students could operate by themselves as a sole proprietorship, with a partner as a partnership, or with two or more partners as a corporation.

Ashley, 11, and her friend Devin Riss, 10, along with three other partners, are providing face-painting and glitter tattoos.

“I’ve been really looking forward to doing this for a while,” said Devin of Hagerstown. “You get to show what you can do and have fun.”


The students created businesses such as selling food, charging people to play games and performing magic tricks.

Each sole proprietorship, partnership, and corporation had to apply for a business license and take an exam before they could start a business. They also had to come up with advertising techniques and a slogan for their companies.

Bella Spires of Boonsboro, 11, was part of a partnership with Andrew Weyant, 11, of Sharpsburg. She said her business was selling candy creations, including necklaces made of candy.

“We’ve just been talking about the fair since December,” Bella said. “We’ve learned that business is not always going to be as easy as just taking stuff and selling it.”

All of the school’s students and teachers were able to take part in the fair. Each student had 30 tiger tokens to spend, which are given as rewards to students throughout the year that they can use on special occasions.

Bella and Andrew sold premade candy creations for four tokens, and customers could make their own for five tokens.

Samantha Brammer of Hagerstown, 11, is a sole proprietor selling cakepops. Her price was two tokens for the cakepop, and two for icing and two toppings, making it four tokens in all.

She said she has been looking forward to the fair since it took place last year.

“I got to see a lot of interesting things last year,” she said. “I’ve learned to run a successful business you need to have a neat place that should always be organized.”

Tokens were also created for teachers to use.

“This is great because it gets all of the kids involved,” third-grade teacher Sharon Lewis said. “This year they’ve learned a lot about goods and services, and supply and demand.”

Marion Bickers, who teaches fifth-grade social studies and runs the fair, said she came up with the idea last year.

“The economic fair culminates with the students’ study of economics,” Bickers said. “They actually get to experience what it’s like to own a business.”

Bickers said the fair also complements changes to the school curriculum.

“Maryland has implemented a Financial Literacy Curriculum in the schools this year,” she said. “This goes hand in hand with what we are teaching students grades three through five.”

Bickers said she was helped this year by her student teacher, Claire Houseknecht.

Houseknecht, 26, is a Frostburg State University student who is graduating in May.

“I remember doing an economic fair when I was in the fourth grade,” Houseknecht said. “Normally, student teachers don’t get to do things this cool.”

The fair began Wednesday and will last through Friday.

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