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Where most people see a simple Post-it note, the creators of the Meaningful Economics and Entrepreneurship (ME*) Competition see an opportunity to expand imaginations and enhance learning.

ME* challenges teams of Delaware students in third through fifth grade to complete unique economics and entrepreneurship projects designed for each grade level. The competition is staged over four days and held in both New Castle and Sussex counties to accommodate elementary students throughout the state. 

At the 30th annual ME* Competition in Newark this year, third grade students were prompted to rethink the familiar office supply.

Teams of students then presented their ideas to panels of judges made up of volunteers from Bank of America, Capital One, Discover, Wells Fargo and Adopt-a-Family.

For the challenge, students could either create a new type of Post-it note, a new use for a Post-it note, a product that can be used with a Post-it note or a product that competes with a Post-it note.

The winning team, coming from MOT Charter School and coached by teacher Alycia Jefferson, created “Super Sticky Scented Post-its” in flavors like watermelon and lime.

Other clever ideas included color-coded Post-its with different levels of stickiness, Post-it note fashion and Post-it origami.

The competition also included a paper test of economics and personal finance knowledge, won by a team of Thurgood Marshall Elementary third graders coached by teacher Christel Skaug, and an assembly line-style production activity, won by a team of Downes Elementary third graders coached by teacher Sandra Schlapfer.

During this year’s production activity, students also assembled thank-you cards intended for Adopt-a-Family gift donors.

Ronni Cohen, executive director of the Delaware Financial Literacy Institute (DFLI), describes ME* as the spelling bee or Science Olympiad of economics.

The University of Delaware’s Center for Economics Education and Entrepreneurship (CEEE) partners with the DFLI to administer ME*.

Bonnie Meszaros, associate director of the CEEE, said that ME*, which this year included 98 teams of 392 students from 20 schools, also provides students with a friendly introduction to academic competition.

Teacher and first-time ME* attendee Belinda Rhinehart from Keene Elementary said that her students were excited to tell her about ME* and their previous experiences with the competition.

Rhinehart prepared her students with materials provided by the CEEE and by incorporating higher-level thinking and project-based learning into her class structure.

Her students learn about markets and target audiences in class by creating their own products and pitching them to classmates and teachers.

While economics might seem like a complicated subject for elementary school students, Rhinehart explained that it’s important to remember that economics is incorporated into many parts of our daily lives.

“Economics is basically being a part of society where you’re buying and selling goods and services,” she said.

Helping students to understand these principles and to succeed, she continued, is deeply fulfilling.

“I love what I do,” Rhinehart said.

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Competition introduces elementary students to economics, entrepreneurship, personal finance

​Competition introduces elementary students to economics, entrepreneurship, personal finance

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  • Institute for Transforming University Education
  • 116 Pearson Hall, 125 Academy Street
  • University of Delaware
  • Newark, DE 19716 USA
  • Phone: 302-831-0640