The essential question posed to Grade 4 students for their “Support Local” PBL (project-based learning) was, “How do we incorporate what we are learning about Hawaiian culture and history into running a successful student-led business?”
Mākeke Hana Lima (ʻōlelo Hawaiʻi for “handicraft”) was their answer. Using a basic understanding of economics and all they have been learning about Hawaiʻi and its culture, the students came up with the concept for and created an online marketplace selling products with a Hawaiian cultural emphasis that they made themselves. They were supported by their Grade 4 teachers, Nicole Ogimi, Saʻo Faulkner, and Uʻilani Reynolds throughout the project.
In the process, the students learned about all facets of starting and running a business – from marketing, to budgeting, to manufacturing, to supply chain management, to online selling – with students divided into committees responsible for each area of the business.
The young entrepreneurs explored how to build a brand and created a name and logo for their business. They brainstormed ideas for products and came up with a traveling konane board, an IPA cookbook, and a t-shirt with IPAʻs 5 Agreements. Students in each ʻohana group collected the materials for and created their own products, in sufficient quantities to open their marketplace to the entire Elementary school. They learned how to build a webpage for online sales, and were able to take payment and track inventory using Paypal. They learned about pricing their products to maximize their profit margin, monitored their sales and inventory, and calculated their costs to determine their overall profits.
“We had to revamp the Grade 4 luau into something completely different due to COVID, and it actually worked out really well,” shared Faulkner. “While the luau was a great project, it required more adult involvement. For the online marketplace, the project was really student-centered and student-driven with great student outcomes.”
Ogimi agrees. “The learning outcomes set out at the beginning were evident throughout the entire project. This was a highly student-centered project and it was so rewarding and fun to guide the students along.”
The students found the experience fun and rewarding as well.
“I think the marketplace was very successful and I think we did a great job finalizing the products, coming up with the ideas, and writing the descriptions,” shared Carina ‘29, Budgeting committee. “Coming up with our own logo was really fun and I think it was impressive.”
“The most interesting thing I learned through the whole project was probably about how to use basic economics skills and what we’ve learned throughout our classes and unit of inquiry to help make an efficient online marketplace for Hawaiian products,” shared Quinn ‘29, Marketing and Advertising committee.
“I learned that making a business is a lot bigger process than you think. Actually running a business takes so much effort and it’s kind of way harder,” said Abaigeal ‘29, Online Marketplace committee. “But it’s kind of fun to make up, and especially with fourth grade it was a lot of fun.”
“I think one celebration is definitely that we got our products selling,” shared Riley ‘29, Budgeting committee. “Another celebration is the fact we have made over $1,000. I think the final celebration is the fact we all came together to even start this and we were successful.”
The support from the administration and the whole IPA community helped ensure the success of the project. “I think the support we received from so many really added more value, not just to the learning experience, but also in showing the kids that it’s not just an individual thing – success comes from teamwork,” shared Faulkner. “That is something that we’ve been talking about throughout the school year, and during a time when we can’t be physically all together, this was one way we were able to collaborate and have a successful outcome.”
As is the tradition, the money the students raised from the online marketplace will be paid forward to the rising Grade 4 students to help pay for their learning trips next year.