Olivia Rhodes thinks cherry-flavored coffee could someday be a popular product to boost the Michigan cherry industry. “I’ll need the strength in the morning,” she says.
The third grader at North Oakview Elementary School has taken preliminary steps to get that product to the coffee-drinking public. She designed the packaging and materials that might be needed to get her Cherry Coffee on store shelves.
Each of Olivia’s classmates in Jamie Wilcox’s classroom came up with product ideas as part of their economics section. The products ranged from calming teas to sugary drinks and board games.
Her students tend to love food products, says Wilcox, who teaches one of three third grade sections. She suggested they stick to a Michigan theme so their products could make an impact on the state’s economy.
Wilcox stresses the three aspects of product development with her class: natural resources, or the source of the product’s raw materials; human resources, or the source of labor to assemble the product and capital resources, or the equipment needed to produce the product.
After their prototypes were completed, the students went on a gallery walk where they wrote a question and a compliment for their fellow product designers. Wilcox then led a discussion of their product ideas.
For the students, the ideas flowed like the waters of the nearby Rogue River. Ethan Sipmann said his Purple Michigan Juice will use grapes, blueberries and food dye as its raw materials. Robert Hanlon used a chip container and wood craft sticks to create the White Pine Music and Games noisemaker.
Alaina Miller developed a lemon-lime drink as a tribute to her late grandmother, who had a lemon tree in her back yard from which she made juice.
Alaina made a special effort to design the label as a tribute to her grandmother. “She was kind of old-fashioned, so I made the bottle kind of old fashioned,” she said.