Economics 101 at Clear Lake Elementary

Karl Marx must have been rolling over in his grave Monday as Clear Lake Elementary students learned about the free market system firsthand during the school’s third annual ‘Economics Fair.?
For two hours, the school’s cafeteria was transformed into a bustling marketplace where fifth-grade entrepreneurs sold necklaces, candy, bookmarks, artwork, scarves, hats, bracelets, mini hockey sticks and pucks, Christmas ornaments, marshmallow shooters, keychains, decorative magnets and much more.
Their customers were eager third and fourth graders, proud parents, bargain-hunting school staff and one newspaper editor.
The Economics Fair was the culmination of an independent project that began after Thanksgiving break in the fifth-grade classes of teachers Kerry Knight, Lynae Farmer and Melanie Royster.
Students learned firsthand what it’s like to run their own business by doing everything including selecting a product to sell, borrowing money to manufacture it, shopping around for the best prices on materials, determining product price, advertising and marketing, designing and building a storefront or product display, and dealing with the public.
‘It’s been a great experience for the kids,? Knight said. ‘They love the idea of creating their own business. This is something they look forward to.?
Many kids were so excited about the project that during indoor recess, instead of playing the usual games, they worked on their products, according to Farmer.
Key economic concepts such as opportunity costs, profit, capital resources and human resources were learned as well as lessons in other areas such as mathematics, language arts, public speaking and research skills. ‘It’s really hitting a multitude of benchmarks in our curriculum,? Farmer said.
Life lessons were also taught as the money students used to start their businesses and manufacture their products was borrowed from either their parents or themselves. These loans must be repaid in full with 5 percent interest, according to Farmer and Knight.
With the fair over, Farmer and Knight said students will now ‘reflect? on ‘who made a profit, who didn’t, why and what they would do differently if they did it again.?
‘Some kids will not make a profit. Some kids will actually owe money and they will have to reflect on that too,? Farmer said.
Although the Economics Fair was a hands-on exercise in pure capitalism, it had some heart-warming and altruistic results.
Farmer said one of her students, Nolan Chapman, solicited the help of his grandfather and father when making his product ? wooden tic-tac-toe boards.
‘Three generations ended up working together,? she said. ‘The grandfather came to school, hugged me and said, ‘Thank you. I’m so much closer to my grandson because of his project.??
Instead of doing classroom gift exchanges this year, Knight said the fifth-grade decided to ‘focus on giving.?
‘Each child who made a product for the fair is donating at least one to an orphanage,? she said. ‘A lot of them donated more than one item.?