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The teams had catchy names: Sweetie Pies, BEB's Buckeyes, Morning Glaze Donuts. Team members made confectionaries and sold them. Some made a profit, which was donated to the charity of their choice. Other teams were less financially successful.
But in the end, the students of Bellmont High School economics teacher Brian Lineberry all received a valuable lesson in the pitfalls of owning and operating their own business as part of a Project Based Learning exercise that wrapped up recently.
Teams of BHS students in Lineberry's class kept track of expenses — including a $3 "rental" fee for use of the Bellmont kitchen to prepare their sweets — to determine if their mock bakery venture was profitable and could survive on a larger scale in the real business world.
Lineberry said the assignment was for teams to create a business, create a marketing plan, do market research, set pricing and work as a team in an attempt to turn a profit.
Invited into the class to hear students offer an overview of their business enterprise was Tricia King, owner of Grandma Goldies Goodies, a bakery in downtown Decatur. Joining her was Jennifer Stump, the store's pastry chef.
King reminded the students there is much more to owning and operating a business than the cost of materials. "There are a lot of costs to consider — insurance, rent, employees — if you really do this," King said.
King also suggested that students in the future be given a longer period of classroom time than the two- to three-week exercise provided this year to develop their business plan.
The Project Based Learning endeavor was launched as part of a two-year grant from the Talent Initiative program in Fort Wayne. The Region 8 Educational Learning Center was the recipient of the grant funding, which is being used to train teachers in PBL classroom initiatives.
Al Summers, who is heading up the grant program for the Region 8 group, said Bellmont High School in the near future will have 30 of its 50 teachers trained in Project Based Learning skills.
At the completion of the class, Summers asked students if they felt the project was worthwhile.
"It was pretty fun," one replied.
"Hands-on is a lot better" than hearing lectures or reading from a textbook, another student said.
Charities that benefitted from the class experience included St. Jude Children's Hospital, Ronald McDonald House and the Wounded Warrior Organization.