Students are accelerating “STEAM” for financial literacy

By Monica Martinez, MBA – Director of Operations and Community Relations

Arizona Council of Economic Education (ACEE)

Thursday, September 1st the Arizona Council of Economic Education supported Heritage Elementary School in the Peoria Unified School District to host its first post-pandemic STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math) family night. ACEE brought the M into STEAM by bringing math and connecting it to money through a hands-on financial literacy exercise for school-aged students and their families. Ashley Schmidt, Accounting Manager for Muscular Moving Men, a returning CEAA volunteer, said, “The event was a wonderful experience! There were so many different kids we were able to interact with. It was fun to be able to count money, calculate taxes, and budget with the kids. Kudos to our community partners and volunteers like Muscular Moving Men and Midwestern University for your commitment to financial literacy.

The youngest K-2 learners explored money and math through a coin counting activity. A first-grader shared that he had never handled coins before. When Monica Martinez, Director of Operations and Community Relations, heard this student speaking in Spanish, she took over with a bilingual lesson. The student quickly gained confidence as he started naming parts in English and Spanish. At the end of the activity, the mother and the student were beaming with pride.

Nearby, 3rd, 4th and 5th graders shared their thoughts on the importance of saving money and why saving can be difficult. Their business was a game based on the book Uncle Jed’s Barbershop, a story about a black barber during the Depression and how his perseverance and resilience help him reach his savings goal. In this activity, students worked toward a savings goal of $50 to purchase a hypothetical video game. Students chose a card with a scenario and determined whether it represented a savings or an expense. Then they used the result of multiplying two number cubes to determine how much was saved or spent. Students would then add or subtract the amounts to their balance. A fifth grade student proclaimed, “You can make money, save money AND lose money!”

The 6 oldeste,sevene, and Grade 8 students learned why we have taxes and how to calculate sales tax. Students and parents took a crash course in the US tax system. Students learned how taxes are collected through sales tax and how taxpayer dollars are reinvested in the community. Students practiced calculating 10% sales tax on low and high value items. “My children will be more ready for adulthood than some adults with this lesson,” said one parent. ACEE’s mission is to reach and teach ALL students in Arizona to be financially literate. To accomplish this mission, diversity and inclusion are essential.

Parents received tips and resources for talking to their children about money. Every parent we spoke to agreed that conversations about money need to happen more often. Many said they were glad they participated because they learned something new that will help them teach their children about money.

About Shirley L. Kreger

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