England Economics Fair promotes student service

Smiling student holding keychain

Asrith Samphath, third-grader and Planet Protector

England Elementary School’s third-grade classes raised a record-breaking $2,783 at its annual Project-Based Learning (PBL) Economics Fair. The fair is a result of a year-long project that connects the academia of economics, math and art with collaborative social lessons.

At the beginning of each school year, students collectively select the PBL theme. This year, students chose recycling and ocean conservation, proclaiming themselves “Planet Protectors.”

“When the whole grade level is working towards the same goal and has the same vision for the future, that’s pretty empowering for the kids,” said Deborah Swyers, England third-grade teacher. “That’s the best part of it — the students feel really good. They feel like, wow, we can do something. We can make a difference here.”

All the products sold at the fair are made by the students. Before deciding what to make and determining if their product idea is saleable, students present their product idea to their classmates for feedback. Students also created advertisements to promote the fair and their products.

England third-grade student Asrith Samphath sold tassel key chains. Asrith said he chose a product that he thought both boys and girls would like, then researched how to make them. Each keychain cost about 20 cents to make. Asrith sold them for 50 cents each.

“I am excited with all the customers and everyone buying mine,” Asrith said. “It’s like I’m running a business and it feels very good.”

Proceeds from the fair will be donated to an ocean conservation charity. The “Planet Protectors” are also considering using a portion of the money earned to expand the school’s recycling program by purchasing a tera-recycling bin for glue sticks.

Swyers credits her student’s commitment to service as a reason the fair was such a success.

“Our ‘Planet Protectors’ are passionate about helping the environment, several of them made more products than were asked because they wanted to raise more money,” Swyers said.

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