Student Entrepreneurs Open CoolStreet
CoolStreet is a microeconomics simulation application that runs across multiple devices fostering collaboration, exploration and discovery by engaging students in a fun, fast-paced learning activity. In the CoolStreet application, students become pizza shop owners, “pizza-preneurs,” and compete with their classmates or even students from other schools for profit along a virtual city street. CoolStreet is a Windows 8 App Store application; it is available for FREE on any Windows 8 device.
Imagine teams of student entrepreneurs huddled around computers, tablets and interactive tables waiting eagerly for the game organizer to “open the street for business.” Pizza shop owners make final adjustments to their store setup, tweaking their demand forecast and fine tuning their costs to maximize profits. Asking real business questions such as: How much should we charge per slice? How much should we spend on signage? What about the décor of our shop? Every decision has a cost and is weighed in the balance with one end in mind: to make their pizza shop the most profitable on the street.
When the Game Organizer opens the street for business, data on student pizza shop sales begins streaming to each device as customers begin walking down the virtual street making their dining decisions. These customers have randomly-generated dining preferences that determine where, when and how often they eat. Some customers make buying decisions based on the décor of the shop. Others base choice on price or food portion. Once the game begins, shop owners can click the Market icon to view profiles of actual customers dining in their restaurant complete with names, pictures and purchase history.
To keep things exciting, the “game clock” has been accelerated so that the customers become like pizza eating zombies, quickly moving between shops buying pizzas. As the game progresses, students experience basic economic concepts such as supply and demand and the relationship between revenue, costs and profit. Every decision they make affects the profitability of the store. They quickly learn that attracting more customers has a cost associated with it, and that just because you have more customers, or sell more slices of pizza, it doesn’t necessarily mean you make more profit. This encourages students to think critically and make strategic decisions along the way, especially when they see their store lagging behind the competition. With a click of the Store icon, students can modify their store settings to attract more customers, decrease labor costs or increase prices.
Not only do the shops compete for customers and profits, they also compete for investors in a pizza shop stock market. When the street is opened for business, each pizza shop is taken public and assigned its own stock symbol. Players can click the Trading icon to buy and sell stock in any of the pizza shops and accumulate gains, or losses, based on the financial performance of the pizza shop market.
CoolStreet even gives teachers the ability to set up role-playing scenarios so that individuals or teams participate in the game in different ways. For example, several teams take on the role of pizza shop owners who set up and run their own pizza shop using a Windows 8 tablet. Other students may be assigned the role of Financial Analysts who review financial data on their iPads and make investment recommendations that are pushed as pop-up messages to all of the players in the game. Still others become stock traders managing their portfolios on an interactive table as they buy and sell stock in the pizza shops.
The vision behind CoolStreet was to create a prototype of a new breed of software that leverages the power of technology in the classroom in a meaningful and compelling way. We wanted to demonstrate that technology can bring students together in a collaborative learning environment, rather than isolating them. We wanted to see the classroom and the technology come to life!
About the Author: Ernie Faulkenberry is a Solutions Architect at Promethean. He tests and presents new software solutions internationally. CoolStreet is his latest digital magic to help change the way students learn and educators teach.