Economics Is Elementary For Small Entrepreneurs

June 02, 1991|By Greg Tasker | Greg Tasker,Staff writer

To teach economics to the school's fifth-graders, a team of teachersat William Paca Elementary School formed the Great American Reading Co., a conglomerate of "companies" and 1,200 "employees," all students.

To earn a company share, students had to read a certain number of books each month, said principal Thomas McShane, noting the project not only taught students about economics but also encouraged them to read.

"The Great American Reading Co.," along with two other student economic projects in Harford schools, were among those honored recentlyby the Council on Economic Education In Maryland, a non-profit organization that provides teacher training and programs for economic education in Maryland schools.

The awards, which include plaques and money, each year honor teachers and students in Maryland who have madeoutstanding contributions to economic education for students. Teachers and school districts submit their projects for consideration. Curriculum and program awards were given to nine teachers statewide, chosen by a committee appointed by CEEM.

"Economic education is being introduced by the state in all grade levels in the social studies curriculum," said Carol Petrosino, a fifth-grade teacher at Edgewood Elementary School, whose board game, "Penguinomics," was among the CEEM winners. "That's why all schools are getting on the bandwagon," she said.

The other Harford winner was Nellie Jones, whose special education students at Deerfield Elementary School formed the Puffy TurtlePencil Co. Students identified the project and conducted a marketingsurvey to determine how many pencils to make at what price.

The students borrowed money from Jones to launch the project and sold enough pencils to repay her, buy the class tickets to "The Wizard of Oz,"and donate to the Muscular Dystrophy Association.

Carol Jarvis, CEEM's executive director, said the Harford projectswere singled out for their "creativity" and "reinforcement of economic concepts."

She described the Great American Reading Co., as a "neat intra-disciplinary project."

"It's really difficult to involve a whole school insomething like they did," she said.

William Paca's McShane said the project also included parents, who were encouraged to read with their children to help them earn shares. Shares, he said, could be turned in for prizes, such as pencils, erasers and paper -- purchased by the school's parent-teacher association.

"I think it was an outstanding program," he said. "The teachers and the kids worked very hard.It involved all areas of the community. We had businessmen come in and talk to children about what shares are all about."

Edgewood Elementary's "Penguinomics" game, a title adapted from Reaganomics, borrowed the characters and some of the economic situations in an award-winning children's book, "Mr. Poppin's Penguins," Petrosino said.

The game, created and designed by Petrosino, requires students to makegood economic choices in order to advance from square to square. Thegame includes a die, markers and cards -- each with a picture from the book -- that outline situations. There are free spaces, lose-a-turn and take-another-turn spaces.

The game reinforces economic concepts, such as demand, goods, opportunity, costs and services, Jarvis said.

"Students can read the book on their own and discuss economics when they play the game," Petrosino said. "Students are faced with economic choices all the time, even when they go through the lunch line. They may have just a certain amount of money and can buy either acookie or an ice cream."

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