For the past few years, grade 3 students in Stephanie Woolsey’s math classes have ended their school year by forming a simulated startup company. In early June, using an internationally known program called BizWorld (BizWorld.org), the students once again worked together to create a business in a real-world environment.
The BizWorld program is designed specifically for elementary and middle school age children, allowing them to engage in hands-on activities that promote financial responsibility, leadership and teamwork skills.
Students are placed into small groups and choose officers, name their company, and then create a design for friendship bracelets, Woolsey explained. Next they manufacture, market and sell them to parents and other students in the culminating “BizWorld Bazaar.”
Like any Silicon Valley startup, however, the new entrepreneurs require funding to get their businesses up and running. “So parents, teachers, and even Sarah Leonard, primary division head, got in on the act and put the company’s CEO and VP of finance through the paces with questions to prove that their company is a good investment,” recalled Woolsey.
Woolsey began using the BizWorld program to give her students practical math experience. She said she continues to use it because it both builds math skills, and provides a great opportunity for teamwork and interaction with parents and students from other grades.
“It gave me a chance to work with people I’ve never worked with before and helped me improve my math,” said student Rachel Ning.
Classmate Rohan Gorti called the program extremely fun but very hard. “Selling things was hard because people are very picky,” he explained.
“It’s fun making bracelets,” peer Claire Chen added.
BizWorld was originally founded in 1997 by venture capitalist Tim Draper, who saw a need to inspire entrepreneurship in children. Since then, the company has distributed innovative programs to teachers in more than 80 countries and has reached over 450,000 students and 8,000 educators.
“Bizworld is really fun to do and it teaches you about teamwork and about business,” said student Laurie Jin.