Social studies students challenged to design businesses

EAST LIVERPOOL – Students in Shari Voltz’s fifth-grade social studies class have turned what they learned about economics in their textbooks into potential money makers.

The students were challenged with designing their own businesses, including deciding what type to open, where it would be located, even putting contingencies into place if they ran out of money for operations, Voltz said.

Some decided to open their businesses in East Liverpool, while others opted for other locations, locating in such places as Los Angeles or Hawaii.

The types of businesses they chose to start varied widely, although animals figured strongly in many of them.

There were animal rescues, a zoo, an equine farm and exotic pet store, as well as a video game store, movie theater, sporting goods stores (one specializing in volleyball gear and equipment), an auto body shop, campground and clothing/designer boutiques.

“They had their own ideas; I’m so proud of them,” Voltz said of her students, who had various reasons why they chose what they did.

One boy is an “expert” in snakes, so, of course his business was the exotic pet store. Another’s father has a second job in an auto body shop, leading him to develop that type of business. A student who excels at volleyball designed the clothing and equipment store for that sport. And, as might be expected, most fifth-graders love animals, leading to the animal-themed businesses.

Once they developed the idea for their business, the students had to actually design a model, and that is where their imaginations took hold.

The zoo, for instance, had a colorful track and a car that ran around it; an animal rescue had a realistic barn with a variety of animals inside; the clothing boutiques had small hangers and Q-tip clothing racks made by the student developer; the exotic pet store had real wooden benches made by one of the student’s fathers, who is a carpenter; another boy actually made pet bandanas, one of which went to Voltz for her dog; the movie theater had a large “movie” screen made from a magazine picture, tiny posters on the wall for coming attractions and even a tiny gumball machine.

Voltz said she had no problem with the kids’ parents or grandparents lending a hand with some of the construction.

“I love it that their families helped. It was a great time to bond with their parents and grandparents,” she said.

Looking around at the projects her young entrepreneurs produced this week, Voltz said, “We have good kids here. We need people to know that.”