ASL Spotlight

UN100 ASL Project – Reality Store

Instructor: Kathryn Johnson

Well done to Kathryn Johnson and her students of UN100 Business Block II who ran a simulation using the Reality Store materials from the YMCA for North Star Academy (NSA) students on Wednesday, November 6th.  The Reality Store simulation allowed participants to get a feel for managing monthly expenses based on their given income and family circumstances.  The UN 100 students represented business professionals who advised the NSA students about their options at each of the 14 stations.  The stations covered real-world topics such as housing, food, clothing, insurance, daycare, and investments.  There was also an interesting “Reality Check” station where students randomly had to deal with an unexpected expense such as getting a flat tire or a welcome income increase such as a bonus from their employer.  After completing the simulation, both groups of students discussed their experiences and the difficulties with managing their finances.  They discussed the opportunities for savings and investments for the future when they were able to make sound financial choices.  For about half of the NSA students, this was their first time using a check book to record their expenses.   Now that the NSA students have been through the simulation as participants, they will use their new knowledge to “pay it forward” to other students in their school, thus implementing their own academic service learning project.  The initial results of this academic service learning project demonstrate success for both groups of students.

Quotes from North Star Academy Students enrolled in Personal Finance Math and/or Jobs For America’s Graduates courses:

“It was more helpful than I thought it would be. It made me realize how expensive it would be to live on my own.”

“I wish the event would have been a little longer. It was really helpful.”

It was really helpful. I realized that you can have a not very good job and get in the hole easily. I am now more aware that I need a good job.”

"The career/job you have makes a huge difference in what you can afford."

"Wow, that was eye opening.”

"I had no idea you could go through so much money in a month."

“ I definitely learned to keep a budget better.”



Quotes from the North Star Academy teacher:

“The more I was able to informally speak with individual students this afternoon, the more I realized how valuable of an activity it was for them. The UN 100 students did great interacting with the NSA students and explaining their scenarios.” – Dave Gilbert, Personal Finance Math Teacher

"Having NMU students lead this activity for high school students was incredibly valuable.  The NMU students added credence to the simulation because they shared personal experiences regarding money management and the sometimes difficult realities of the transition to becoming adults."-Sarah Johnson -  "Jobs For America's Graduates" Teacher.


Quotes from UN 100 Business Block II Students:

“Can we do this too? I feel like this would be really beneficial to us!’

“People will spend hundreds of dollars on clothes, but get $20 worth of personal care items. You need to be showered and use toothpaste if you want to keep your job though!”

“If you spend correctly you can end up with a lot. Put more in savings so you don’t have to work ‘til you die.”


Quote from UN 100 Instructor Kathryn Johnson

“The UN 100 Business Block II students carried out this academic service learning project with the highest level of integrity.  They ran their individual financial simulation stations with poise and modeled the professionalism required to work in the business industry via their interactions with the North Star Academy high school students.  The UN 100 students already demonstrate they have what it takes to succeed in their future business professions.  They are a great asset to Northern Michigan University and the local community.”


The UN 100 students (15 students) responded to an anonymous Qualtrics survey with the following results:

1.  Running the Reality Store at North Star Academy was a valuable academic service learning project.


2.  The North Star Academy students learned about real life expenses and managing finances using the Reality Store Materials.


3. Running the Reality Store simulation reinforced the importance of sound financial management practices that I want to implement in my own future.


4. I (as a UN 100 student) learned about real life expenses and the decisions that influence managing finances by running the Reality Store simulation.




UN 100 preparing for their roles at each station of the Reality Store simulation.



UN 100 students advising North Star Academy students at Reality Store stations: