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Early Start - Purdue Economic Education Program Celebrates Entrepreneurial Efforts of Indiana Students

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — Students from Indiana elementary and middle schools demonstrated how they have learned to harness economic skills and innovation to create a successful business at the annual Dennis J. Weidenaar Classroom Business Enterprise (CBE) Showcase at Purdue University’s Mitchell E. Daniels, Jr. School of Business on April 12.

The event, which was free and open to the public, recognized teachers and young entrepreneurs from the area who have participated in the CBE program throughout the school year. 

Students were on hand to display their products and share information about the process of starting their business, including designing, producing, marketing and selling their goods. Business experts from Purdue and local corporations offered constructive feedback.

The CBE program allows teachers in elementary and middle schools to incorporate applied business experience in their current classroom curriculum, giving their students the opportunity to learn important economic skills. Both the start-up funds provided to students and the profits they earn are in real dollars, making it a true entrepreneurial learning experience.

“The beauty of the CBE is threefold,” says Melanie Fox, a clinical assistant professor at the Daniels School and PCEE director. “First, it allows students to be creative while learning concepts like profit, costs, saving, and entrepreneurship. Second, it gives them more agency by allowing them to decide what projects they want to pursue while learning these concepts. And finally, these projects are self-sustaining because classes provide the seed money for future students. It is a fantastic way for the participants to learn that economics is really about decision making in a way that is fun and has real-world applications.”

Christy Harshbarger, a second- and third-grade teacher at Mayflower Mill Elementary, says the CBE Showcase is the highlight of the year for her students. “They know the CBE is coming, and as the production days approach, the excitement is palpable. The real-world lessons my students learn concerning risk, quality control, costs and profits cannot be replicated with any other lesson. Reflection afterward is also beneficial, and working together to decide how to save, spend, and donate our profits allows students to make hard decisions with real consequences.”

Classrooms receive funding, training and support from the Purdue Center for Economic Education (PCEE), which coordinates the program and the annual showcase. The Indiana Council for Economic Education also provides support, helping to extend the program across Indiana.

For more information on the Classroom Business Enterprise program, email or call (765) 494-2245.