2010 Exchange City

[add_slideshow align=”right”]The homemade treats are selling fast at the Snack Shop. A line five customers deep winds away from the counter, the deposit bag is getting fatter, and owners Kyra and Olivia are smiling. Their snack shop is a big success.

The Snack Shop is just one of the many student-run businesses in Exchange City, a mini-city run for the day by sixth-graders from the Middle School of the Kennebunks. Two teams of MSK sixth-graders went to Exchange City in Dover, N.H., this spring. The Education Foundation of the Kennebunks and Arundel funded half of the cost of the trip.

Today, ninety students are involved in the simulation, working as shopkeepers, bankers, and politicians; taking out loans from the bank; handling employees, and taxes, and sometimes a bit of stress too.

“I spent half of my break in the bank,” says Kyra, both frustrated and

Exchange City is a private educational company that brings to life the economics lessons learned in social studies class. MSK sixth-grade teacher Tom Taylor has been working with his students on the basics of supply and demand, expenses, balancing checkbooks, and more for six weeks. Today it’s time to put
Taylor gathers his merchants around. “When you have more [in your cash register] than your loan is worth you are . . . ,” he says, “IN THE BLACK!” the students chant with him.
Back at the Snack Shop, the grins have gotten wider. The bottom line is forty-eight dollars in the black. Accountant Ameliagh happily prints out bonus checks for all six employees.
“My signature is getting really sloppy,” says owner Olivia as she signs each bonus check.
Throughout the day teachers and mentors guide the students through their tasks, reminding them to make loan payments, pay employees, and shop locally to drive the economy of their mock city. At the end of the day students will discover whose products or services sold and kept their owners and employees in business, and whose didn’t.
Taylor says the lessons won’t end with the field trip. He debriefs with everyone back at school to make sure they are clear about what went right and what went wrong.
What went right at the Snack Shop is not lost on the owners, accountant, and three employees. They learned that teamwork is important—that and one other very important thing. “Food sells,” says Kyra as she ends her day, with the satisfied smile of a successful shop owner who took care of her business and employees and took her lessons to heart.