On March 28, sixth-grade students and teachers at Athlos Academy of St. Cloud wrapped up a project they had been working on for nearly two months with an exciting, hands-on learning experience. Students and staff traveled to Junior Achievement BizTown, a 10,000 square-foot, kid-sized simulated city located in the Junior Achievement headquarters in Maplewood, MN, where they put their weeks of hard work to action.
“BizTown is a Junior Achievement’s experiential-based elementary school capstone program that helps students understand work readiness, economics, and personal financial literacy,” said Michaelene Lucia, sixth-grade teacher at Athlos Academy of St. Cloud. “JA BizTown is interdisciplinary and supports the sixth-grade standards across all content areas.”
Students spent several weeks taking part in hands-on activities and actively participating in a simulated community within their classrooms. They used critical thinking skills as they learned economic and financial concepts and knowledge that they then applied first-hand at the JA BizTown site.
“Students ran the BizTown city for a day,” Ms. Lucia said. “They were employees and citizens. Some of them were CEOs, bank tellers, and grocery store managers. All of them used their financial literacy skills to cash checks, open savings accounts, and make purchases at the many businesses run by other students.”
This project helps students to understand the link between what they learn in the classroom and their own participation in a global economy. Feedback from students and parent volunteers was extremely positive, with students appreciating the real-life application of the skills they are learning at school.
“Students realize that the lessons they are learning in school have meaning in the real world,” Ms. Lucia said. “Knowing how to read and do math makes having a job easier. Students enjoyed the satisfaction they got from having a job and doing it well. When a business paid off their operating loan, it was a huge celebration!”
In addition to applying classroom lessons into their experience at BizTown, students reflected on how they incorporated Performance Character into their experience. Here’s a look:
“I showed humility when I did someone else’s job without pointing it out.”
“I showed grit when I had more work thrown at me, but I pushed through it.”
“I showed social intelligence by going around checking on other workers outside of my business.”