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Students bring disciplines together to create business plans

by Bob Gaetjens | Editor Published: March 19, 2014 12:00 AM
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A group of students are budding as young entrepreneurs at Streetsboro Middle School.

March 13 and 14 last week, eighth-graders in Computer Technology Teacher Dan Culver's classes presented business plans to a panel of school officials, plus yours truly, although I was only able to be there March 13. Other panelists included Streetsboro Middle School Teacher Traci Andrews and Director of Curriculum Aireane Curtis the day I was there.

Culver said he modeled the unit after the reality TV show "Shark Tank."

"It's a panel of investors, and people come in and pitch their business ideas," he said.

So, I was an "investor" and had the chance to view and critique two classes' business plans, which was pretty interesting.

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The variety of different types of business -- ranging from car washing to a script writing and editing service -- reflected the variety of students in the class.

During a networking event, Culver said students shared their ideas with one another to determine whether there were ways to combine them.

"We actually created this business social event, kind of like the Chamber of Commerce would do," he said.

One product of that meeting was "Baby Beats," a combination baby sitting service with optional percussion lessons.

Another pair -- Benny Shaffer and Brandon Sanders -- presented their plan for Elite PC Repair. Their mission statement was to provide "quick, reliable service" for computers, said Sanders.

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Shaffer said the service would include a wide range of computer repairs once the business has some money to invest in parts. To build up that money, he said they would help with disc cleaning and "getting rid of viruses," which have low costs associated with them.

Nakea Wilson and Chelsy Konik are interested in building their business, Paws & All, by partnering with PetCo or Petsmart. Their home-based business would offer a "spa treatment" with grooming and bathing for dogs, said Wilson.

Another interesting plan was Logan Ritts' presentation on Protraining, a company offering group and individual baseball skills lessons.

A lot of these business plans are realistic enough the students could actually start them up. Each business plan had to include a marketing plan, an analysis of costs, an advertisement and a slideshow presentation, which included an explanation of the concept, costs, prices for services and marketing plans.

Creating the business plan, the spreadsheets that analyzed the costs and revenues, the advertisements and presentations required application of variety of computer skills learned in Culver's class, and it also required students to call on skills learned in other academic areas.

Creating spreadsheets requires application of math skills; the oral presentation itself is an application of language arts skills; and the knowledge of business is related to financial literacy, a virtual model of integrated learning.

It was neat seeing students have the chance to apply their skills and knowledge in a way that's real to them. With all the emphasis placed Ohio Achievement Assessments, it was really nice to see this sort of in-depth lesson. Educators at all levels have often told me students learn better when a lesson is relevant to their own lives than when content is taught in a vacuum.

Culver's business plan unit is a perfect example of that kind of learning.

Email: bgaetjens@recordpub.com

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