Middle School

Learning How to Budget

In Trimester 3, 6th grade students applied their knowledge of math by building a small business through the Microloan Project. This year, the project expanded with a field trip to the Junior Achievement Finance Park, in Auburn, in which the students created comprehensive mock budgets.

For the Microloan part of the project, students worked individually or in small groups and requested up to a $15 (per person) loan. Then, they designed a business that will cover the cost of the loan, plus pay back 10 percent interest. The businesses ranged from homemade slime and otter pops to custom made stickers and bracelets.

“This project is a great application of proportional reasoning, working with percentages and almost all the other curriculum we have covered this year,” says 6th grade math teacher Jenn Ford. “It helps students learn how to use their math in real life situations.”

Students simultaneously performed various budgeting activities while their businesses were operating. On the field trip to the Junior Achievement Finance Park, students engaged in a day-long budgeting role-playing scenario. Each student was given a different life situation and completed a comprehensive budget, which included such line items as insurance, utilities, credit card debt, and student loan debt. The scenarios ranged from a single I.T. manager making over $100,000 per year to a single parent of two children making $35,000.

“Being able to look at the realities of life for many Americans helps build capacity for multiple perspectives,” says Jenn. “This activity brings in awareness, and that in turn helps build empathy.”

Like many of the 6th graders, Rafi H. was exposed to a comprehensive budget for the first time.

Says Rafi H: “I learned if you start saving money early, you get used to it, and it will be much easier in the future.”