Grade 5 students at Elsie Roy elementary school know what is required to turn an invention into a reality. That’s because they’ve just finished a two-month crash course on how to become young entrepreneurs.
Melissa McCleary’s students got to learn the ins and outs of designing, marketing and selling a product at their Yaletown school this fall.
“We went through the whole market research, the surveys, marketing, graphing,” said McCleary. “It pulled in a lot of math skills in terms of money and income statements.”
Each pupil in McCleary’s class designed his and her own product throughout the two months to sell at a grand finale marketplace Nov. 16 that showcased their products. The result was an outpouring of creativity that included playdough-like goo, jewelry, perfume and stuffed animals.
“I would purchase every single one,” said McCleary on her class’s finished products. “That’s what I liked… It was very well-made, quality products.”
Students created prototypes that were tested and went through surveys before the final products were complete and advertised through posters and flyers.
Ten-year-old Diba Soheili sold scarves she dubbed “S.U.P.S.” or “Super Ultra Popular Scarves.” She sewed the multicoloured scarves herself and offered them in four varieties: white with navy dots and pearls, blue with white dots and pearls, white with flowers and pearls, or purple with black beads.
She learned how to sew from her mother, but was able to take home new skills.
“I learned time management because I was bad at that before. I realized that if you’re not organized you lose a lot of great things,” said Diba.
The kids had to market their designs. Lucas Currie chose to call his homemade bracelets “happy bracelets,” because they “come in a lot of colours and just look awesome,” he said.
His bracelets are made from pieces of rope twisted together and crimped using a copper plate that was originally designed as a plumbing tool.
Lucas expertly explained some of the math skills he learned that helped him decide what price to sell his bracelets at. “How much total cost, then you divide how many units by the price, and then it equals out the cost of making it,” he said. “Then you make an ideal price of usually 50 per cent profit mark-up.”
Both kids sold out of everything they brought to the market. Diba made $59.25 and Lucas made $76.50. But profits weren’t simply pocketed — the young entrepreneurs had to pay back loans to their parents and donate 10 per cent of their profits to charity.
McCleary said the program, part of a larger young entrepreneur program called PowerPlay, was a great success at her school even though it was the first time they’d attempted it. She said she made the right choice in giving the ambitious project a shot.
“I just thought kids that aren’t academic could really blossom and show off their skills in a different way,” she said.
“They all had success. They were very proud of themselves and I was very proud of them.”