After two+ months of preparation and production, 29 fifth-graders set up shop in the school gym and sold products they made as part of the TREP$ afterschool program. The May 18 marketplace was the ultimate test of the business techniques the students learned.
TREP$ teaches students the nuts and bolts of entrepreneurship by walking them through product development, from concept to final sale. TREP$, which stands for entrepreneurs, teaches students very concrete business fundamentals over the program’s two+ months. The students met weekly and learned a different business skill each week. For example, one week students wrote business plans and identified their target customers; another week they learned about marketing and effective advertising, and another it was salesmanship and customer service. They also learned the process of cost analysis – a key to deciding which product to manufacture for sale.
Among the handmade products that were on sale were stress balls, tie-dye t-shirts, homemade candles, jewelry, hand drawn comic books, and Shrinky Dinks keychains.
“It’s fun and a challenge making stuff,” said Riley Fazioli. “And a good experience. TREP$ is just different from other things you do in school.”
Riley, who likes making crafts when she has the time, sold sunglasses which she embellished with beads and lettering. A week before the marketplace, she was confident that she made a fun and creative product others will want to buy. However, a touch of anxiety had set in. “I’m a little nervous but really excited.” Among her worries: Will she have too much or too little product to sell?
Entrepreneurship has always been a hallmark of America’s growth and history. But with reality shows such as “Shark Tank” and entrepreneurs such as Elon Musk and Mark Zuckerberg regularly in the news, students have never been more interested in innovation and business ownership.
Teachers Michele Schoch and Vince Buzzelli served as TREP$ advisers this year. Buzzelli, who teaches music, participated in TREP$ as a student at JFK Elementary School in Wayne.
When Laura Iacampo’s cell phone rang with an unfamiliar number on the caller ID, the second grade teacher did the wildest thing. She answered it.
“I know your voice,” she said after the caller introduced himself. “You don’t even have to say who this is.”
On the other end of the phone was John Elliott, WCBS-NY’s veteran meteorologist. Just a few days before, Iacampo had seen a promo putting out a call for classes interested in a visit to learn about weather and weather forecasting. She filled out the online form, expecting to hear back “next [school] year or maybe in September at the earliest.”
Nope. Elliott wanted to come the very next week. After settling on the date, the two discussed the details of his presentation to her kids. He would customize it to meet their interests and the science curriculum.
The following Tuesday, Elliott, his cameraman Al Lesner, and the CBS mobile weather lab came to Tinc Road. Elliott spoke with four classes about dangerous weather, low and high pressure systems, the science of forecasting, and the best ways to stay safe in extreme weather. Then the students went outside for a tour of the weather lab.
The segment on Elliott’s lesson and the visit aired on Thursday, two days later. That Saturday, the segment ran again with an intro by Cindy Hsu. Elliott and Hsu discussed the FM amplification system that Iacampo uses in her classroom for students who have hearing difficulties.