Teaching How To Manipulate Funny Money

The Scene County -- currents and undercurrents

February 27, 1991|By Erik Nelson

I was delighted when I received a press kit in the mail for a countyschools-business partnership involving my very own bank, Maryland National, an MNC financial company.

The program is called SuperSaver, and it's aimed at the seemingly harmless goal of teaching elementary school children to manage their money.

What impressed me most was that while any bank can teach childrenhow to open a savings account, my bank had something special to offer.

Yes, kids, the good folks at Maryland National can teach you the pitfalls of managing not just your own money, but other people's aswell.

First, on page 6 of SuperSaver's Bank Activity Book, you'llfind SuperSaver's Hidden Picture. This appears to be a simple picture puzzle, but if you look closely, you'll find hidden meanings as well as objects in your banking empire.

At the bottom of an office building, you'll find a $100 bill. But work your way to the top of the building, and you discover that the building is empty. See what your initial investment is now worth: a nickel.

Now, to prevent your savings from being invested in speculative commercial real estate, turnto page 19, SuperSaver's Craft Corner. Follow the step-by-step instructions and you can transform worthless cardboard tubes into a much more intelligent place for your money.

On Page 20, you'll discover how to make a SuperSaver Change Pouch, a terrific place to keep those$1.5 million worth of Christmas bonuses safe from those naughty federal regulators.

And on the last page, you'll find $155 worth of play money, which I found puzzling. Why, I wondered, do you need play money when you already have $1.5 million?

Of course! It's for the shareholders (who were real sore about getting no fourth-quarter dividend the same month MNC gave itself that awesome bonus)!

SOURCE: Erik Nelson


"We need help bad."

So read the desperate scrawl of second-grader LaRee McCuan in one of 17 letters sent last week to The Howard County Sun.

LaRee and fellow classmates at Glenelg Country School have banded together on a mission of what seems like infinite proportions.

Since December, the students have been seeking one million plastic tabs -- the kind that lock in freshness on plastic-wrapped bakery products -- to better grasp the notion of immensity. They want to see for themselves what a million looks like in the flesh.

"The project has been a problem-solving activity," explained Barbara Vandermer, teacher of Glenelg's Class 2-V. "The children are realizing the immensity of thenumber. They used to say 'a million rocks,' but it has a different meaning for them now. Even adults take for granted what a million is."

Vandermer launched the project after reading an article in the December Weekly Reader about a class that collected one million tea bags.

"We were fascinated by it all," said Vandermer. "To count to a million takes 23 days. A million dollar bills weigh 2,500 pounds. If you stack one million pennies, one on top of another, the pile will reach 95 miles in the sky."

Vandermer's class is currently studyingnumber and place values. She decided to incorporate the collection of plastic tabs into the lesson plan.

"It's easier for them to grasp the concept if the material is right in their hands," Vandermer said. "We thought of using plastic bread tabs because they are accessible to people and don't cost anything. We began bagging tabs in ones, tens, and thousands."

More than 2,237 tabs are now being stored in plastic bags on tables in the back of the classroom. Vandermer hopes to put the entire million in a plastic, see-through container for future classroom use.

"The process of collecting has been a tremendous learning experience as we gather them," she said.

The junior math majors invited the school's other second grade to pitch in, and nowthe entire student body is participating. After the first 966 tabs were collected, Vandermer and the class decided to enlist the help of fellow countians. "I thought people local to the school would feel more involved," she said.

The second-graders diligently churned out 17 letters to The Howard County Sun's editor, each politely requesting press intervention in the crusade for the tabs.

"Will your readers help us get 1,000,000 tabs?," wrote student Alice Taylor.

SOURCE: Rona Hirsch

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