Skip to main content
BlogClassroom Instruction that Works

Financial literacy with generating and testing hypotheses

By April 7, 2010June 14th, 20168 Comments

While I am a curriculum and instruction consultant at McREL, I am also a father. Today I chaperoned my fifth grade son’s class trip to Ameritowne. These experts in financial education develop the financial literacy of young people through real-life experiences and hands-on programs. They use simulated communities such as Ameritowne, International Towne, and others. They also use the Classroom Instruction that Works strategy category of Generating and Testing Hypotheses. Specifically, students problem solve, make decisions, and analyze systems as they try to run simulated businesses, governments, nonprofits, and other institutions found in a community. Each “store front” is sponsored by a real organization in the actual community. More information can be found at

This was a great example of how dynamic experiences can build student background knowledge and thinking skills. The students governed the town, produced television news coverage, bought and sold goods, ran charities, produced products, and more. They had to analyze conditions within the community (system) and decide what to do. They then tested their plans as they ran the community. The adults were there just to advise and assist. It was wonderful to see how well the students did in their work. Do you have any examples of real-world simulations that use Generation and Testing Hypotheses in other content areas? If so, share it with us in a comment to this posting.


By Matt Kuhn – McREL Lead Consultant

McREL is a non-profit, non-partisan education research and development organization that since 1966 has turned knowledge about what works in education into practical, effective guidance and training for teachers and education leaders across the U.S. and around the world.


  • Catherine Simpson says:

    I love this concept. It really brings into focus the “real world” for students and how their education will help them.

  • Joe Tornberg says:

    I am new to this blog site, and I have to say this is an interesting concept. I have read Classroom Instruction That Works numerous times, and each time I discover a new way to modify my lessons. I agree that whenever a teacher can bridge those connections between what students are expected to learn and reality, it will stick with them longer. This idea of the student town and integrating hypothesis testing definitely gives me pause. I am now considering how I might develop a similar project for 6th graders based on state standards.

  • Amy Horesco says:

    How about playing monopoly, as a secondary activity to be used in conjunction with the field trip to Ameritowne? I love the idea of Ameritowne. Mr. Kuhn, do you give any follow-up assignments for the students, or year-long assignments like how do you save or invest or spend your allowance?
    I used to work in a high school and a marketing class field trip used to be to New York City. I’m not sure of the exact details of the trip, but I do know that students were each given $100 and told that they could buy whatever they wanted, then try to resell it when they came home. (I bought a pair of cheap plastic chandelier earrings for $1.00 from a student.) The trick was in buying something that they could actually make a profit on. I know that many of the students learned from this real-world experience.

  • Matt Kuhn says:

    Here is a resource for Amy Horesco. Take a look at the program in a Chicago school. The video explaining it is from Edutopia found at: It is a great program!

  • S. Agboola says:

    I find it educational that 5th graders were able to run the town on their own. I love the fact that the students were allowed to use various forms of thinking to get their goals accomplished. The fact that they showed the various types of companies and resources that each shop needed to survive is good. As for Amy, I like the monopoly idea. It gives the students a way to continue to use what they learned.

  • I find education to 5: th graders were able to run the city on your own. I like the fact that students were allowed to use different forms of thought for their achievements. The fact that they showed different types of businesses and resources that each company needed to survive are good. As for Amy, I like the idea of ​​monopoly. It gives students a way to continue to use what they have learned.

  • Marrie says:

    Real world experiences is always best. I bet this was a very meaningful experience for the participants.

  • Matt Kuhn says:

    That was Marrie.

Leave a Reply