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Doing Business in Birmingham

Originally appears in the Spring 2013 issue

Doing Business in Birmingham was a project that developed out of the “Sciracy” class at Birmingham Covington School in suburban Detroit. Sciracy creates opportunities for interdisciplinary learning to take place, specifically in science and literacy, and involves team teaching with 54 students. The students themselves dubbed this class Sciracy because it rhymes with piracy, and they perceive themselves as eco-pirates, making daring disruptive thinking raids into unknown territories.

The aim of Doing Business in Birmingham was to heighten awareness of sustainability amongst local business owners. By leveraging technology and leaving the classroom to engage business owners face to face, our students are spearheading a culture of change in our community. I hope that this article not only inspires you replicate the project with young people in your own community, but also provides you with the tools to do so.

We began by posing two simple questions to our 5th and 6th grade students: What is the difference between a need and a want? Who provides for our needs and wants in the community? We generated class definitions of needs and wants and began to look at the various businesses and organizations that provided them. This led the students to consider sustainability: how are the businesses in our community ensuring that they are meeting the needs of the present while not compromising the needs of future generations?.

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Pauline Roberts is a math and science teacher Birmingham Covington School, Bloomfield Hills, Michigan. She collaborated on this project with Rick Joseph, teacher of Language Arts and Social Studies. Read Pauline’s blog at <> or follow her on Twitter @pr05bps. The URL for the project is: <>