Over 150 West Orange – Stark Middle School eighth grade students

sat down with pencil, paper, calculator, and a life card to make

decisions about insurance, education, health care coverage, housing,

transportation, and more.

“It’s kind of cool,” Troy Brinson said, “I’m learning about budgeting and life situations.”

Brinson found himself designated to be married and the parent of one

child shortly after arriving at Junior Achievement’s Finance Park in

Nederland recently.

As he rotated through the various kiosks at the event, it was logical

for Brinson to purchase an older model sedan for transportation. The

$294 per month car note fit into his budget.

The Finance Park program helps students build a foundation for making

intelligent, lifelong, personal financial decisions through hands-on,

realistic site-based experiences.

The program includes in-school, teacher led activities which culminate with a visit to Finance Park.

WO-S students were introduced to the program by math teachers Jobie

Hill and Sarah Howlett in November in preparation for the event.

Once at the event, students were divided into small groups. Then,

students individually visited each of approximately 20 kiosks which

required them to make choices about banking, budgets, credit, debt,

income, expenses, interest rates, savings, and opportunity costs.

Students had to determine budget strategies, while at the same time

determining costs associated with insurance, clothing, philanthropy,

banking, dining out, phone coverage, home improvement, groceries,

furniture, basic utilities, and investments, based upon their assigned

family unit, occupation, yearly salary, and tax commitments.

“The most valuable thing that happened was that those students with

trouble connecting math to everyday experiences now do,” Hill said.