The Lipscomb Academy fifth grade students learned about economics, entrepreneurship, personal finance, workforce readiness, and other skills that students need to succeed in the real world at Junior Achievement “Biztown” on October 28.
JA Biztown is a program run by Junior Achievement, a non-profit youth organization established to promote an entrepreneurial education in school-aged children. At Biztown, an indoor virtual city, students are given jobs, a virtual salary to spend and finances to manage. Expenses for the students include healthcare, taxes and insurance.
“The program helps students understand the basic flow of money, how you get paid and where taxes go,” said Jane Thomas, a fifth grade teacher at the academy and point-person for the academy’s participation in the program.
In the academy’s third year of participation, 83 fifth grade students began preparations five weeks prior to the event. Preparation included writing stories for the town newspaper, learning how to balance a checkbook and interviewing for jobs at Biztown.
Leanne Smith, a Lipscomb University assistant professor in management, presented a lesson for the students about the interview process and how to present oneself to a potential employer.
The students picked three jobs each to fill out an application for and were then interviewed by students in the Lipscomb University business program. Headed by Smith, the group of 10 university students interviewed each of the fifth grade students for the positions to which they had applied and provided feedback after the interview.
With the interview process complete, positions were appointed for the students to fill at JA Biztown. Positions included company CEO’s and CFO’s as well as workers for the bank, City Hall, the newspaper and more.
After weeks of preparation that included a curriculum from Biztown taught by academy teachers and collaboration with Lipscomb University, the students traveled to the facility near 100 Oaks Mall to participate in the five-hour virtual business day.
After a brief orientation, the students worked in their given roles for much of the day, but were also given time to shop in stores run by their peers, procure insurance from the virtual insurance company, make song requests from the town DJ and visit the bank to manage their finances.
A new feature at Biztown this year is an opportunity to participate in philanthropy. Students are given the opportunity to donate $2.00 of their virtual salary to a charity and in return they are allowed to play an Xbox game.
“My favorite thing was acting like a grownup,” said fifth grade student, Reed Alexander.
"JA Biztown is one of the best parts of our Social Studies curriculum. The students get to engage in experiential learning about economy,
community, and team work. Every year Biztown is near the top of the list of their favorite things about fifth grade," said Thomas.