Fifth graders from Millikin, Northside and Southwest elementary schools got a taste of the real world when they visited JA BizTown in Davenport last week.
JA BizTown combines in-class learning with a day-long visit to a simulated town where students operate banks, manage restaurants, write checks, and vote for mayor.
“After the educators teach the curriculum, the students come on-site to run an interactive, simulated city, where they have a job, earn a paycheck, and act as community members,” explained Melissa Rebro, JA World Program Director for Junior Achievement of the Heartland. “Students visit the bank, shop, vote, and make donations to the non-profit business. It’s fun to see the students step up and take on these ‘adult-like’ responsibilities!”
Nikki Pierce, who teaches fifth grade at Millikin, said her class began preparing for its trip to BizTown in January.
“It’s a lot of work,” said Mrs. Pierce. “We cover many topics across our curriculum from math with how to balance a checkbook and learning about decimals to real world skills including how to apply for a job. We also touched on civics, elections and government.”
When it was time to find a job, students determined their top three choices, applied for those roles, and were matched with a position based on their skills, interests and strengths.
“The kids love this day and get so excited about getting a job,” noted Mrs. Pierce. “They each received a letter a few weeks ago letting them know about their job and how much they will earn. As our visit to BizTown approached, the nerves started to kick in and they asked a lot of questions.”
Whether working at the radio station, newspaper, city hall or a sandwich shop, there were plenty of takeaways from the day.
“Students learned about working as a team and how compromise is often involved when it comes to running a business and setting prices,” she added. “The BizTown experience gives students an opportunity to think about what they might like to do someday.”
Mrs. Pierce also noted the importance for students to connect the dots between what they learn at school and how it applies in the real world.
“Learning about the meaning and value of money is so important because it’s a huge life skill,” she said. “For students to understand what it means to function independently, learn their responsibilities, follow directions and do their jobs as instructed is what this is all about.
“This is the best field trip that I’ve been on as far as how it enhances what has been learned in the classroom,” Mrs. Pierce added.