I am very excited and NERVOUS about our Grade 7 buttons sale. It's an idea I got from a former colleague/supervisor, but I've modified it to have the kids actually design buttons and sell them.
So far, here's the deal:
* I investigated and found a German website that makes custom-made buttons (aka. badges or pins). They cost 1.14 Euros each if you order 50 buttons at once, or they cost 1.02 Euros each if you order 100 buttons at once. Each order goes with one design (so if you want multiple designs, you submit an order for each).
* The kids start by sketching out some button designs. They then take their 3 favorite designs to conduct an informal market research. Questions to ask: Would you buy this design (and which design out of the 3 would you most likely buy)? How much would you pay for this, knowing that the proceeds are going to support charity? The kids are encouraged to ask at least 20 people, some within our class and some outside, so that they can get a realistic read on the market and also support the business plan they will write, with actual data.
* We sit down and start creating one table / graph / equation altogether to compare buttons sold and profit made. For simplicity's sake, we assume first that we will order 50 buttons and we will sell at 2 Euros. The kids answer some questions about how much profit we'd make if we sell zero buttons (pure losses) or all 50 buttons. They also analyze the break-even point. They do this all on their own with little help from me, but I do go around and check their answers, and we discuss the analysis as a class after they have completed all questions on their own.
* Then, the most exciting thing happens! They continue on to part 2 of the project, in which they have to choose 3 different price points to sell the buttons at. They make the same analysis as before, assuming still that they order in bulk of 50 buttons (with unit cost 1.14 Euros). And after that, they create another table for analyzing what would happen if they ordered 100 buttons at once (with unit cost 1.02 Euros), again comparing numbers of buttons sold (up to 100) and the net profit.
* As they finished the tables, I went around and showed them how to check their table values by writing the profit equation, putting it into the graphing calculator under [Y=], and pulling up the table of values for that function. A little bit of technology and math for my Grade 7's! Woohoo!
Today, all the kids more or less finished this last part above. They were so excited about the whole thing that they wanted to keep working on it, even though I gave them the option of stopping and playing a group game halfway through the period (it was Friday afternoon).
This means that next week, they will only need to: finish making their graphs for these new functions, analyze their equations, break-even points, potential for sale (based on informal market research), and then they will be writing the business proposal to submit to me and the principal! yay.
I have already gotten permission to choose two best business plans, to split the class into two groups, and to actually order the buttons / carry out the sales. All proceeds will go to a charity of their choice.
Lovely! I'm nervous we'll lose money in the end, but it's the uncertainty that makes this business project great!