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IBM Executives Teach Fifth Graders Life Skills

May 4, 1991

CAMP HILL, Pa. (AP) _ IBM has sent its executives back to elementary school to instruct fifth- graders in some of life’s hard-edged concepts - taxes, insurance and budget-balancing.

Every Thursday morning, a group of executives with IBM Corp. talk and play games with pupils about buying houses, paying for cars and writing checks. They are midway though a two-month program at Steele Elementary School in this Harrisburg suburb.

IBM marketing manager Steve Bowers said he was surprised when school officials asked for help in teaching the pupils ″living skills - budgets, taxes, insurance, banking.″

The idea seemed somewhat sophisticated for fifth-graders, said IBM marketing representative Rege Dinkel, ″but the teachers said you have to catch them in fourth, fifth, sixth grade and get the idea in their heads then. By the time they get to high school, they’re already lost.″

Bowers devised a format that allowed the pupils to get involved.

Through simulation games using interlocking blocks, candy kisses, toy cars and play money, the executives allow the pupils a glimpse into their own future as adults.

In one recent class, the fifth-graders ″bought″ their choice of houses and cars. Several students changed their minds once they learned the fancy houses and cars cost them too much money and ran up taxes and insurance costs.

Latasha Ritter said her group ″got the big house ’cause it would be more room for all of us. If this was the real thing it wouldn’t be room enough for all of us in no small house. And Porsches, they cost too much money. We don’t got too much money.″

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