Timber Ridge fifth graders learn about financial literacy in Biztown

IMG 9293DES MOINES, IA (Jan. 14, 2022) — Some Timber Ridge fifth graders this week took the long-awaited trip to JA Biztown — a simulated town where students operate the banks, manage the restaurants, write checks and vote for mayor.

Some dressed in a suit and tie, while others wore the uniforms of doctors or construction workers.

They learned about the 14 kinds of businesses in Biztown — from a bank to a utility and realty office, construction company, health clinic, publishing center, insurance company, restaurant and retail shops.IMG 9282

“Each role is unique at Biztown and it takes all students to make the community function properly,” said Timber Ridge fifth-grade teacher Scott Short.

The fifth graders began preparing for their visit almost two months ago. They filled out job applications, wrote resumes and interviewed for jobs in BizTown ranging from chief executive officer to project engineer, leasing agent, advertising executive, DJ, sales manager, doctor and district attorney.

As students did their jobs, they also planned for how they would spend their money in BizTown’s restaurant and retail shops, and considered donating to charity. The smell of popcorn wafted over from the nearby Kum & Go, as construction workers put together a bench and DJs played music that could be heard throughout the town. Preparing for this day included IMG 9301practice writing checks, filling out deposit tickets and keeping a checkbook register.

“Students will learn how to work together to be successful in an economy,” Short said. “They will learn real-life work skills and discover the benefits of working (earning a paycheck and making decisions with what to do with it!).  They will learn how to keep track of their spending and make purchasing decisions.”

BizTown attempts to mirror the real world. Businesses set prices based on what they think they can get for their items, paying attention to supply and demand. They also know what they need to earn for the day, so pricing can be set according to what they need to pay off their bank loan.

At the end of the day, Timber Ridge fifth graders learned how to apply for a job, how to interview for it, and how to accept the outcome. They learned that the center of a community’s economy is the bank. They found out that businesses offer either goods or services, and how supply and demand are essential to a free IMG 9314enterprise. They learned about taxes and why they are necessary. And they had fun doing it.

“JA Biztown provides excellent resources to help us meet our financial literacy standards,” Short said. “We focus on a free market economy, supply and demand, and what it means to be a consumer.”

Due to an upcoming winter storm, a visit to BizTown by the second half of Timber Ridge fifth graders scheduled for Friday was projected to be delayed. Those students would have their visit to BizTown rescheduled in the next few weeks.