25 March, 2016
"Today, what we have planned for you guys is money markets, and then playing a game called Mr. Big Shots. So, we'll start off today's class...."
Just outside Washington, D.C., children with an interest in economics now have a place to learn about it.
They can join a club called Edunomics. The group meets once a week at Farmwell Station Middle School in Ashburn, Virginia.
Edunomics was the idea of two high school students who once studied at the middle school.
Sahith Malyala and Sahil Yedulla visit Farmwell Station once a week to teach economics to interested students. The high school seniors began studying economics in high school.
The two say they work with the children not for credit, but to give back to the local community.
Sahil Yedulla says they decided to give children a chance to explore a subject they enjoy.
"I got a message from Sahith, he was like, 'Hey you want to start an economics club?' I was like, 'You know what, why not?'"
Sahith Malyala says there were many reasons for launching the club last year. He says middle schoolers have plenty of chances to learn about science, technology, engineering and mathematics. Educators use the name STEM when talking about the four subjects.
"They have a lot of STEM-related opportunities, but we wanted to do economics because we're both interested in that. And there wasn't that many economic-related organizations or clubs out there."
Neighbors and childhood friends took their idea for Edunomics to David Stephenson, who teaches at the Farmwell Station Middle School.
"I'm deeply touched. I usually get visitors to come back and see me and say ‘hi.' I have never had students come back and say this is what I want to do. I thought it was a fantastic idea."
Stephenson helped the high schoolers find a space to hold the weekly classes. Yedulla says he also showed them how to be good teachers.
"Mr. Stephenson's help cannot be put in words. He helped us so much with this club. I remember like, after the first lesson, he was like, 'maybe just try to slow down a little bit, just like ease into it.'"
Malyala says simplifying economics, financing and business, and making it fun is the secret to getting younger students interested.
"Each week, we would have like a 5- to 10-minute lecture on a new topic. Then after that, we would really hit hard on making sure they understood it through an interactive game."
These games help demonstrate the real world uses of the economic theories.
Club member Anika Kumar finds studying economics fun and useful.
"If you want to start your business, then you need to know all about economics and money ."
David Stephenson says Edunomics has been profitable for everyone involved. Older students learn to become leaders and bring change to others' lives. Middle schoolers are more open when high schoolers teach them.
Next year, the high schoolers will be attending college. But David Stephenson says the club will continue, giving other students a chance to teach and learn.
I'm Dorothy Gundy.
Faiza Elmasry reported on this story for VOANews. George Grow adapted this story for Learning English. Kathleen Struck was the editor.
Words in This Story
senior – n. a student in the final year or high school or college
fantastic – adj. extremely good or great
lesson – n. a single class
lecture – n. a talk or speech to a group of people
interactive – adj. requiring people to talk with each other or do things together
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