NMU Students Assist Bothwell Classes with Business Plans


The NMU Economics Student Association, comprised of about 20 members, is working with Bothwell Middle School teachers and students on economic education in the marketplace. Last month, BMS seventh-graders presented business proposals on particular goods or services they plan to produce or implement.

NMU Interim President Mike Roy was among those who interviewed students about their proposals. He is pictured with Eric Zaenglein, who plans to make desk lighting “more unique and exciting.”


Tawni Ferrarini (Economics) oversees the program as director of the NMU Center for Economic Education.


“The students’ overarching business plan strategy is to bring their selected goods and services to the marketplace with the goal of maximizing profits,” Ferrarini said. “Through an experience-based instructional system, the students follow the entrepreneurship model and play the role of proprietors, assuming all the risks associated with their business plan successes and failures. This helps young people understand the real marketplace, which means understanding the difference between ideas and feasible business opportunities.”


The program will culminate on March 25, when the seventh-graders display their goods and services at the school and try to entice fellow students, parents, and community members to purchase them.


“We wanted our students to go through many of the same steps that would be required if they were actually starting a new business in Marquette ,” said Joe Lubig, one of the Bothwell teachers involved in the program. “They completed real business plans with market research surveys and movable supply and demand curves. They had to write and present their ideas, and they will bring their products and services to market, vying for actual customers.”


Entrepreneurship is one of several programs Northern’s Center for Economic Education offers to K-12 educators, students and parents. Its mission is to increase economic awareness and instill appreciation and value for the economic way of thinking and its applications.


The CEE is a member of the National Council on Economic Education. It provides in-service training for teachers; develops and distributes curriculum materials; offers guidance on curriculum development; recognizes teachers and school systems for outstanding achievements; and helps K-12 students meet Michigan social studies standards and benchmarks for economics.


“We can also provide educators with pre-and post-assessment tools that will show quantitatively that students can meet learning milestones that will make them better consumers, business owners, employees and voters,” Ferrarini added.

Some of the CEE programs designed to advance economic literacy include a Mini-Society cross-disciplinary program in which students design and implement a working economic system; the Michigan Stock Market Game and Entrepreneurship, a simulated activity in which students develop and manage hypothetical investment portfolios; Econ & Me, an award-winning education series that teaches scarcity, opportunity cost, consumption, production, and interdependence; and Financial Fitness for Life, which teaches younger students the ABCs of how to manage money and make smart choices while learning to read, add and subtract.

Northern revitalized its Center for Economic Education (CEE) in the fall of 2002. It was first established in the 1980s with a similar goal: prepare Upper Peninsula youth to become active and effective participants in the global economy.

“We can help educators introduce economics to the curriculum by incorporating the vocabulary in activities they are already completing in the classroom,” Ferrarini said. “Scarcity dominates every aspect of our lives, making economics not just part of politics, business or commerce. It’s also strategic thinking through life in terms of evaluating the benefits and costs of anything we do.”





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Updated: April 23, 2004