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The Candy Bar Project: Finding the Sweet Spot Between Commerce and Creativity

printed chocolatesIt’s fun to play with your food—especially when science is involved! That’s what these teachers are offering to their students to help them learn more about what it takes to be entrepreneurs in the real world.

It’s called the Candy Bar Project, part of the Elizabeth Forward DREAM Factory. The idea is simple: for two weeks, students learn how to be entrepreneurs and create a chocolate bar company. This means learning how to design the chocolate bar, build the mold for it, pour the chocolate, create a business plan and company business cards, and finally develop a 30-second commercial marketing the chocolate bar and the company. All that for a lot of chocolate!

The DREAM Factory was created a couple years ago at Elizabeth Forward Middle School and combines art, technology education, and computer science to help break the mold of traditional classes. “We wanted to do a project that would a) engage the kids, while b) giving them 21st-century skills,” one teacher tells Edutopia. “Then it hit us: We have the Sarris Candy Companyin our own back yard.”

Here’s how the project goes:

  • First, in a technology class, students create their own 3D candy using the free app Google SketchUp on a laptop. They also create prototypes with cardboard, paper, foam, and other materials to help with the design process. Once they’re satisfied with the design, they use a 3D printer to print the design.
  • Later, in a family and consumer science class, students drill small holes in their prototypes so that a vacuum mold can sense all the tiny details. They use the vacuum mold to create a mold of their own candy bar. The teacher explains everything there is to know about chocolate, including how to melt it and how to pour it into their molds. Don’t worry, Mom and Dad—students also learn about the nutrition of the chocolate!
  • Next, with the art teacher, students learn Adobe Photoshop and use it to create the logo for their chocolate company. They create wrappers with both the logo and the nutritional facts on the back.
  • Finally, the computer science teacher helps the students market their delicious creations by helping them make a 30-second commercial using iMovie. They also learn how to create a business plan showing how much the candy bars cost to make and how much they should be sold for.

See? It’s incredibly simple to teach middle schoolers the important skills they need to excel in the real world, and all it takes is a little candy to get the gears turning. The DREAM Factory teachers found that it’s possible to engage students in STEM learning when they’re exploring something they truly care about—and what middle school kid doesn’t care about candy?

And speaking of candy, we hope everyone had a wonderful and spooky Halloween over the weekend! Maybe next year, the candy will be on you!

Photo credit: Todd Keruskin via Edutopia

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