The sixth grade is deep into their business math block. Those students are so excited about the topic that they are discussing business ideas and asking students and parents about market demand as a regular topic of conversation. The chalkboard in the math classroom is absolutely FULL of fraction/decimal/percent conversions.

The class has spent a lot of time talking about taxes. The students were surprised to learn we pay taxes in several different ways, including sales tax, income tax, payroll tax, and property tax. We even talked about different tax rates for different income levels and additional sales tax on specific items, such as cigarettes and items imported from other countries. We discussed how local and federal governments use our taxes. Mostly, students were very appreciative of all the services paid for by our tax dollars!

The students had the opportunity to calculate sales tax. They worked with a partner and “made purchases” from each other’s stores or businesses. The students wrote a receipt for the purchase, including calculating the sales tax. Again, it was a bummer when they realized they had to pay that tax to the government. Not only did they not get to keep it, but calculating it, collecting it, and paying for it was a lot of work for them. Owning a business is full of challenges!

We also spent time talking about profit this week. We calculated the profit for individual items and the overall profit for a month. We wrote a formula for profit: P = I – E. The class had creative ideas for increasing our profit by increasing our income or decreasing our expenses which can lead to some tough choices. We also calculated the percent of our income which was expenses vs. profit. We found that 52% of the sales price for a tie-dye bobble hat at Shaw’s store was profit. That sounded great, but would it be wise for him to sell them at 50% off? When should we sell for no profit just to cover our costs?