In the Spotlight

It’s all elementary when it comes to business!

By Mary Allen and Clayton Gould, Hypertherm, Inc. Associates

At the beginning of the Junior Achievement program, neither Mary nor I had any idea what to expect. We were fairly certain that this was not going to be anything like a distributor training session, and were not quite sure how the kids would relate to us. We will both fully admit that there was a slight bit of nervousness mixed with excitement the first day we went to the Hartland Elementary School to meet the 19 students of the 4th grade class. Once there however, we were greeted with unmatched enthusiasm and a true desire to learn.

 

 

 

The Hartland 4th grade class is comprised of 19 unique and wonderful students with a full range of interests and personalities. It was quite clear from the beginning, however, that they all shared one common goal, the goal to learn. Once both of us had met with the teacher, Mrs. Betsy McClure, we got the opportunity to meet with the class and introduce ourselves and the program. The kids were instantly excited and ready to go. They were actually disappointed when we told them that this visit was only to get acquainted and we weren’t starting until the following Thursday.


Our module began with a focus on the three different resources types: natural, human, and capital. We looked at how different types of resources are found in various regions, and that businesses often have to buy and transport resources from far away to make their products. Next, we explored how businesses use many different types of resources to make products. We had a very good discussion about the differences between a good and a service and the different types of resources that are needed for each. One of the really fun activities that we did was to break down a final product (cereal) into a value chain of all the resources and steps required to produce it. Each student represented one piece of the chain and in the end we had all the students line up in a row (even Mrs. McClure). Toward the end of the 6-week module, we "graduated" up to discussing income vs. expenses and how businesses measure success. We wrapped up the instruction with a game (very similar to monopoly) in which the students had to run a business and encounter expenses and revenue and once finished, measure if they had a profit or loss. We are happy to report that everyone was able to make a profit. We even introduced them to taxes and explained that the government uses this money to support such things as schools and roads. Yes, this was a depiction of a real life business.
In the end, we all had a great time to together over the 6 weeks and all of us are kind of sad to see it end (even though the kids are aware that summer vacation is fast approaching). There were so many rewarding parts of the program for us that it is hard to focus on only one. The kids sang us their "thank-you" song many times (most likely irritating the class next door) and actually presented us with a gift, on the last day, of things they had brought in that were produced in Vermont. Mrs. McClure was extremely happy with the program and told us that she will most definitely bring it in again next year and has been promoting it throughout the school. However, the most rewarding part doesn’t come from any gesture or gift. It comes from the experience of expanding a child’s horizon and working along beside them to help them understand the real basics of how things are made in this world and all the resources required to do so. One thing that both of us mentioned in reflection was how engaged all the students were in the material and their desire to learn. We would both like to thank the Upper Valley Business and Education Partnership and Hypertherm for giving us this chance to experience the true enjoyment of teaching these students. We would also like to take this opportunity to invite anyone who is at all remotely interested in doing this to ask us about it and definitely get involved next year. It was a very rewarding experience that neither of us will forget for quite some time.

 

 

 

Thanks to a grant form the e-cares Seed Fund of the New Hampshire Charitable Foundation, and in cooperation with Junior Achievement of NH, Hypertherm, Inc. and the Tuck School of Business, UVBEP was able to deliver the Junior Achievement curriculum to 422 students at 11 schools in April and May, 2003.

 

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