The 5th graders at Kimbrough Elementary have been lucky enough to attend JA BizTown every year since its pilot year, nearly 10 years ago. The program encourages students to learn about our free enterprise system through a month-long unit which culminates in a field trip to BizTown, a simulated town with 21 businesses where students work and manage the simulated city. Student experiences vary from working in a bank, a television station, a radio station, retail stores, law offices, and even city government among other businesses and enterprises. They also must managing personal finances by depositing their BizTown paychecks in the bank, writing checks to purchase goods and services, and accounting for their expenditures in a check register. The applications to real-life problem-solving scenarios are countless! The trip is incredibly valuable for our 5th graders.
Each year, Kimbrough is able to bring a unique learning experience to our 5th graders called BizTown! The McGrath Family Junior Achievement BizTown is a 10,000 square foot mini-city in which kids discover how free enterprise really works. There are 21 life-size businesses, a non-profit organization and a city hall. Every day, 150 new students become business owners, make financial decisions, explore philanthropy, and pay taxes.
Teachers spend four weeks teaching the Junior Achievement BizTown curriculum. Students learn principles like economics, good citizenship, and money management. Each business offers the students the opportunity to work as CEO, CFO, or a business specific job. Students apply for the job that interests them. Once they are assigned to a job, students spend time with the other employees in their business to develop their business operating budget, apply for a bank loan, create advertising, and develop their marketing strategies.
After the curriculum has been taught, the students come to BizTown and become "grown-ups" for one day to put into practice all of the principles they have been learning in the classroom. At BizTown, the students are in charge!! Students work in a life-sized interactive city that is designed to reflect San Diego in the businesses, landscape, and architecture. In front of City Hall, the mayor gives a speech reminding the citizens of the laws of BizTown, and encouraging everyone to exercise their civic duty by voting. Students check the business break schedule to know when they are allowed to leave work, visit the bank, and become a consumer in the city.
Our students leave BizTown feeling personally successful after spending the day working hard at their jobs. They also leave with a greater understanding of the value of a dollar, the importance of team work, and how to be a contributing citizen in the community. The time spent at The McGrath Family JA BizTown is only one day, but the impact that this experiential learning has will last a life time!