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Students showcase their entrepreneurial spirit at Purdue
Sue Scott

Students from McCutcheon High School, Hershey Elementary School and Mayflower Mill Elementary School participated in the Dennis J. Weidenaar Classroom Enterprise Program at Purdue University.  Members of the Purdue Center for Economic Education and others came to Rawls Hall to view the student displays and listen to presentations detailing what the students learned from their business ventures.

The schools collaborated with the Purdue Center for Economic Education which provided up to $250 to start each small-scale classroom business. 

This was Hershey Elementary School’s first year to participate in the program. “Our goal was to teach our students about economic principles through hands-on experience in starting and operating a small business,” says teacher Stephanie Salmon. “Participating in this initiative offered our fifth grade students the opportunity to gain practical experience in entrepreneurship, apply economic concepts in a real-world setting, and develop essential skills like teamwork, problem solving, decision-making, communication and marketing. 

A team from Hershey sold “Super Sticky Stickers” and made a nearly $400 profit. “The stickers were really popular,” says fifth grader Max McKenzie. “Everyone liked them and they were affordable.”

Another group from Hershey created gyroscopes and infinity cubes fidgets with a 3-D printer. “Our printer malfunctioned and it created spillage, which is products that failed and we can’t sell,” says fifth grader Addison Funk. 

“Owning a business is hard,” adds teammate Jackson Sonderoth. “We faced some challenges that impacted our profits. We were up against time, quantity and quality. And since there was such demand for the product, we should have charged more.”

Mayflower Mill Elementary School has been participating in the program for 16 years. Teacher Gina Boyd says her fourth and fifth grade high ability class creates five different companies each year. It helps them gain a better understanding of the rewards and struggles of being an entrepreneur.

“They use their creativity to suggest products that our class could make, creating prototypes and calculating production costs to encourage their classmates to choose their product to produce for our business,” says Boyd. “They shop together at Wal-Mart so that they can see how much their expenses for production actually are. Then they have to work together to efficiently and accurately produce their products. They learn decision-making and identify opportunity costs when they have to make choices about products and about how to spend their own personal money to buy a product during sales days.”

Despite his busy schedule, Purdue Pete attended the event to cheer on the students and pose for photos.

Students pose with PU Pete
Purdue Pete with Hershey students
participants pose with PU Pete
Hershey students with Purdue Pete