View Full Version : Teaching entrepreneurship through Mathematics

03-11-2011, 10:41 AM
Alright, so I have been hired through Teach for America to begin teaching at a Title 1 Middle School this Fall. I will be teaching Math. I have been teaching in one capacity or the other for several years now, although mostly in the field of music.

I, nor most people I know enjoyed math, especially not in Middle School. Frankly, if you look at how it is being taught, a lot of classes are legitimately pretty boring. Standards have forced teachers to take the "beat in their head" approach and it is not doing anyone any good, but not here to talk politics :)...

I am going to have students work in groups to start their own business (theoretically of course) Right now I am thinking they can choose between a Restaurant, Clothing Store, Music Store, or Sporting store.

They will have to survey people and do market research and graph results, look and dealers and compare potential sales to benefits of bulk purchasing, look at expenses and create profit/loss charts, decide what products to carry etc.

They will also design their store inside and out and study marketing through probability and percentages.

What I need help with is expanding my own knowledge of market research and the math that goes into anticipating competition, sales, profits, and traffic. Any pointers or resources would be much appreciated.


03-11-2011, 10:52 AM
That sounds to me like an excellent approach. Everyone likes to play games, so making math a game is very appropriate. It will also help create the idea that business IS a game, and a very enjoyable game at that. I suggest you make it competitive - which team can make the most profit, who can help the most customers, who can create the most value, etc.

Don't forget ALL the stakeholders - business owners, shareholders, management, employees, customers, suppliers.

I'll have to research for resources but I'll see what I can find. Better yet - have the students research for resources.

03-11-2011, 10:56 AM
Great, I am planning on making competitive. I have a strong background in grant writing and am planning on having the final project be a completed business plan which is judged by professionals in their respective industries. I am going to use what ever grant money I can come up with to give the winning team in the form of scholarship funds. Since this is a Title 1 school most all the students are below the poverty line. I am also in a very urban location (Nashville).

03-11-2011, 12:44 PM
I think this is an awesome idea, and much more useful than the way I was taught math, most of which I have never used and promptly forgot. They certainly should do things like calculate cost per unit, gross profit vs. net profit, unit cost vs. sales cost. Also don't forget to talk about calculating return on investment for marketing and sales promotions.

03-11-2011, 01:49 PM
Let me give one specific example I am working through right now. I am developing a lesson plan that teaches linear equations through looking and the differences in bulk discounts vs. total sales needed to start making a profit. y=mx+b, y=(sale price)(units sold) - (initial investment). I am trying to find a way to at least get close to anticipating the market share and thus potential units to sell.

Let's say we are selling guitar strings. The students survey people in their community and find that out of the 100,000 people that live here, 10% play guitar. They also discover that the average for guitars players is to buy and new pack of strings every 6 months/guitar and that the average guitar player has 2 guitars. That math tells you that 40,000 packs of strings are sold to guitar players in Murfreesboro.

Now lets say that in our surveying and research we discovered that 40% of guitar players buy their strings online. This would leave 24,000 packs of strings to be sold locally. There are 8 music stores in my town right now, there would be 9 with this theoretical new business. That means that with an even market share, each store would sell roughly 10 packs of string/day.

This is as far as I have been able to take the math. I know that there is almost never an even share of the market, but is there anything else that I can use to help make the above scenario more realistic, if a professional were to be working on anticipating %'s of the market a business could take over/what sales might look like what would they be using.


03-11-2011, 04:05 PM
My wife and I are planning on taking this approach to homeschooling our kids. We have a 2-year-old little girl right now, and one of my side businesses is selling vinyl decals online. She helps stuff envelopes for our mailers and puts return address labels on orders before they go out.

I can hardly wait the next year or two, until she learns to add simple numbers - she'll be tasked with creating production queues out of individual orders. We have software for that, but that's not the point; she'll learn and feel a part of the family business.

My ideal living arrangement is to have a family business, where the entire family goes in every work day and works together, using the mechanics and routine of operating a business to teach what would normally be taught in the classroom.

03-12-2011, 08:04 AM
maybe you could add math to some in the field market research too...like have them pick 10 people to survey thru the project... when they have marketing decisions to make....like asking what they bought and what is wanted..favorites in different fields....
good market research is pretty broad and needs to be outside of math too...its art and science......like if they had a clothing store they would definitly need to read the most popular style magazine for the neighborhood....or if it was a music store they would need to be up on the latest trends in their target market....
p.s. im shocked at how hard middle school math is...here they divide fractions and some other things i never even heard of.... i dont seee how the parents could even help......