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Fourth-graders follow ‘passions’ by founding companies

Heritage Elementary School fourth-graders Walker Hallman and Anastasia Snow hold a flier for "Walking Paws," a dog-walking business. (CONTRIBUTED)
Heritage Elementary School fourth-graders Walker Hallman and Anastasia Snow hold a flier for “Walking Paws,” a dog-walking business. (CONTRIBUTED)
At Heritage Elementary School, gifted students in Rachel Glass' classes proudly show their research for 'mini passion projects." (CONTRIBUTED)
At Heritage Elementary School, gifted students in Rachel Glass’ classes proudly show their research for ‘mini passion projects.” (CONTRIBUTED)

MADISON – For eight weeks, 35 fourth-graders in the gifted program at Heritage Elementary School have pursued “mini passion projects” to found a business.

Gifted specialist Rachel Glass hopes her students “will gain research and accountability skills, as well as grow in confidence. They’re in charge of choices, planning, research and work that goes into it.”

Glass wants students “to understand how capable they truly are and what they can achieve when they are motivated by their own interests.”

To choose topics, the Heritage fourth-graders used productive thinking and decision-making techniques. Choosing a topic was difficult for some students, while others “knew exactly which passion they wanted to pursue,” Glass said. Then, they used a decision-making grid to evaluate each idea’s feasibility and value.

Students could work alone or in partner groups. They watched video clips of real entrepreneurs pitching ideas to investors.

Using “TED Talks” as a model, students presented pitches to ‘company associates’ (their classmates) about their proposal and covered all plan aspects, including goal setting, scheduling and research.

“Students loved the opportunity to question one another. It was daunting to many of them to be put on the spot. All in all, it was a great learning experience. Projects were better for it,” Glass said.

Fourth-graders Anastasia Snow and Walker Hallman founded “Walking Paws,” a dog-walking business for their neighborhood. Brody Millsaps and Parth Kommidi collaborated on a science fiction novel, “Guardian of the Elements.”

Katielaine Gudgen started “Art for Care” to create and sell artwork to raise money for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. Katielaine already has collected $100.

Michaela Robinson and Ava Johnson developed “Dolphin Time” magazine. Grayson Furber and Ethan Benko are teaching themselves coding basics to develop simple, online games. Preston Merritt fashioned a remote control into a flashlight.

Webmasters included Punarvi Mandadapu, “Save Tigers and Pandas”; Bianca Litavec, “Greek Mythology”; and Shaivi Pandey, “K-Pop” for Southern Korean pop music.

Fourth-grader Ella Thomas created gymnastics tutorials via iMovie. Ella enjoyed “sharing our passion with other people. Hopefully, it will turn into their passion.”

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