It was their first lesson. The students each chose a paper bag, opened it, and spilled the contents on the desk in front of them.
Their goodies included cookies and candy. Some had more, some had less.
“Think about how happy this makes you,” instructed Stephan Gohmann, the College of Business economics professor who opened the two-day Economics & Entrepreneurship Summer Program. The program July 11-12 was the first summer camp for high school students offered by the college’s John H. Schnatter Center for Free Enterprise, which Gohmann directs.
He went around the room, and the 30-plus students expressed their happiness level on a scale of 1 (unhappy) to 10 (thrilled). Then Gohmann gave them permission to trade with their fellow students to increase their happiness score.
The lesson? “Trade benefits everybody,” he said.
The participants, from several high schools including Ballard, St. Xavier, Christian Academy and South Oldham, also had classroom lessons in profit motive and morality; entrepreneurship; collective action problems; and markets and auctions. Several College of Business professors participated.
The students toured Belknap campus and took field trips to GE’s FirstBuild microfactory on East Brandeis, and Papa John’s International headquarters in Jeffersontown, where Schnatter sat down with them and offered insights into how to be a successful entrepreneur.