Young entrepreneurs launch products at PCCS Market Day

April 5, 2019

POCATELLO — For one afternoon, the Pocatello Community Charter School was a business incubator, and 72 first- and second-grade entrepreneurs reported strong sales from their creative startup companies.

For the biennial PCCS Market Day, hosted Thursday afternoon in the school’s cafeteria, students were paired with business partners, and each pair was tasked with developing a common product concept. They were given several days to create their products, which they sold in exchange for pretend currency, called market bucks.

“We’ve been learning about basic economic concepts — wants and needs, goods and services, producers and consumers — so this gives the students an experience to practice what being a producer and a consumer is,” explained PCCS teacher Whitney Griggs.

Throughout the week preceding Market Day, teachers gave students three to five market bucks at the end of each day, contingent on good behavior and classroom performance. Partners took turns manning their stores and shopping from their peers, padding their discretionary income as they sold more of their own goods.

The market offered a diversity of student products: paper jousting helmets, dolls’ blankets, bracelets, artistic book marks, baked goods, high-flying paper airplanes, painted rocks, homemade Play-Doh and foam flowers, among others.

Tiarnaigh Lambson’s parents always marvel at her artistic creations, so she decided to spend a day drawing farm animals and other original works to sell. She bought colorful frames for each piece from a dollar store.

Makayla Giesbrecht went with an old stand-bye among children seeking to cut their teeth in commerce — the lemonade stand. Coincidentally, she and her partner had the same idea.

A key part of the lesson is setting the appropriate price to balance supply with demand.

“I’m charging one Market Day buck,” Giesbrecht said. “I chose one Market Day buck because if I chose five I wouldn’t get as many people.”

Griffin Jinks had a top seller with his elaborate sun-catcher key chains. He explained his production process entailed melting beads in muffin tins and pounding them out into new shapes.

Jade Mendive discovered a fun concept for a baked good in a recipe book. Her cupcake ice cream cones, topped with whipped cream and sprinklers, were priced as a premium product — selling for three market bucks. Demand was strong, nonetheless.

“These are really cool,” Mendive said.

Griggs said some students seek to save their market bucks to demonstrate the profitability of their business plans. Others like to spend every bill.

“I think they learn about supply and demand and also saving their money and really looking at all of the options before they buy the first thing they see,” Griggs said. “The real power of the learning experience is in the debriefing. The kids reflect, ‘I should have charged more for my product because I sold out and people really liked it,’ or maybe, ‘I shouldn’t have made 50 paper airplanes because I ended up with 30 at the end.’”