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The City Journals

South Jordan Ram Mall teaches students skills beyond entrepreneurship

Sep 09, 2019 11:19AM ● By Julie Slama

At South Jordan’s Ram Mall, fourth grade students developed their own business or service, marketed it and tried to make a profit while learning valuable business and entrepreneurship skills. (Julie Slama/City Journals)

By Julie Slama | [email protected]

When their South Jordan fourth grade teacher explained that at the Ram Mall, students would develop their own business or service, students Stratton Durran and Kloe Webb started brainstorming.

“We both love scrunchies and thought it might just work,” said Kloe of their business, Stradical Scrunchies. “We knew we had to earn money so we could spend some at other booths, but we knew our scrunchies couldn’t be too much or they wouldn’t sell. We took into account the cost to make them and the value of the product before setting our price.”

But before the $3 price was set, Stratton first learned how to use a sewing machine so she could make the scrunchies. It showed the kind of dedication students were making to the entrepreneurship unit and the skill set they were learning, Principal Ken Westwood said.

“This gives kids an opportunity to explore their entrepreneur side, to come up with ideas, survey their peers for what they’d like, determine supply and demand to help determine their price, to create a business plan and learn from it,” he said. “It allows them to be creative and to execute on a great idea. And when they learn new skills on top of it, like how to sew, it gives them even more opportunities to learn.”

Fourth grade teacher Karrie Wardell said during the monthlong unit, students develop their own business or service, track their experiences, practice good customer service, decide upon marketing and advertising and learn about economics. They even pay a rental fee for the use of a table and pay for using the microphone to advertise their product or service.

However, it isn’t real money they use but rather Ram bucks, named after the school mascot. Through doing a good job in the classroom with their assignments or helping in the classroom with jobs such as passing out papers, being in charge of recycling or being a line leader, students earn the pretend money, which they can use to purchase items from other booths.

This year, students had a variety of options from purchasing Otter Origami and getting a snack at The Candy Boys to entering the Tootsie Roll Raffle or being challenged by a Disney quiz.

“I really like trivia, and I’m full of knowledge about Disney since I like it, so I thought I’d combine both my interests,” fourth-grader Annabelle Doty said. “I like to interact with people, rather than just pay money for something, so it’s fun. I’ve also created it as a challenge so people can compete against each other. I have three levels of questions, trying to make them progressively harder. They range from ‘Who is Princess Aurora’s prince?’ (Phillip) to ‘What was the name of the man who created Pinocchio?’ (Geppetto).”

Another creative entrepreneur, Ben Rencher, approached area businesses, asking for gift cards that he could sell to his peers at the Ram Mall. Like a flash, the gift cards ranging from an ice cream cone to an entrée were sold.

“I was nervous going to businesses and asking for donations, but I learned how to approach people in the business world,” he said. “I learned that the cards I had less of, I could charge more for, just like supply and demand in real life.”

Before setting their businesses up on the big day, students also learned about impacts in the business world, such as Henry Ford introducing the assembly line. In a hands-on exercise, it took 12 minutes for a single student to assemble a car, instead of six minutes for students to produce 10 cars, where each student had a part to assemble, said student teacher Eleen Wilkinson.

“They learned the importance of working together, innovation, communicating and becoming good business leaders,” she said.

Fourth grader Jillian Pettersson, who already had some entrepreneur experience with her Super Speedy Snowees snocone business the previous summer with her sister, created a Ram Mall business with seashells. 

“I really like picking up the seashells at the beach in California, and not everyone gets to go there, so I thought if I could share my interest with others, I’d have more fun,” Jillian said about her Royal Shells booth. “I asked my sister about items that sell and prices that worked, and then created seashell keychains to sell. I’d like to open my own business, with my own products and set up a website for it.”

Her mother, Hayley Pettersson, has supported this curriculum for both her daughters.

“I like that they’re teaching life skills — creating things for their business and learning how to run a business,” she said. “They’re already putting what they learn to use in real life.”