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“What do you want to be when you grow up?” Some children answer “astronauts.” Others say “teachers” or “nurses.” And then again others – they want to be football players or rock stars.

Dreaming about future jobs is an important part of early childhood. Having children think about what they want to be when “they’re big” can not only tap into their talents, but also give them direction as they get older and begin to plan for careers. Roleplaying looks different at every age, but it’s a valuable tool in reinforcing education, even through middle school. Exchange City is designed to impact students at a formative age, 5th through 7th grades, and teach them life-long lessons through an innovative educational learning experience.

What is Exchange City?

Exchange City is the largest hands-on educational program for middle school students. Over 1,000,000 students have participated in this one-of-a-kind experience since it was built in 1980. We offer a life-sized city that students come and “run” during one day’s field trip. Students are assigned jobs and civic roles that they must carry out in order for the city to work.

Curriculum of Exchange City

While there are no traditional “lessons” or “classes” taught at Exchange City, our experience is built to correlate with Missouri and Kansas State core competencies and instructional strategies throughout the program curriculum. Our program fosters active learning through an integrated Math/Communication Arts curriculum. As students participate, they will put to action lessons in:
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  • Math
  • Language arts
  • Social studies
  • Economics
  • Technology skills
  • Civics

Most school groups that have experienced Exchange City report improved test scores and increased student attendance.

In addition to curriculum, students receive hands-on exposure to many social and community issues like:  government; voting; loans; laws; health insurance; health and wellness; investments; media/entertainment; journalism and more.

The “City” of Exchange City

Exchange City was designed to teach middle school students about opportunities and responsibilities in the American free enterprise system. It is a mock city made up of several businesses and organizations. Each student is assigned a job in the city where they have to work with fellow team members to problem solve and come together to run a thriving Exchange City metropolis. Exchange City consists of 14 businesses and organizations:

  • City Administration
  • Arvest Bank
  • Corner Café
  • Distribution
  • EC Communications
  • EC News
  • ECLX Radio
  • Health & Wellness
  • International Bazaar
  • Arvest Asset Management
  • Nature Studio
  • Public Works
  • Sports Stop
  • Network Technologies

Benefits of Exchange City

At Exchange City, students are engaged in an experiential learning initiative. Experiences at Exchange City don’t only help students in their current coursework, but lessons learned from their experience last a lifetime. Students learn many skills over the course of a day at Exchange City:

  • Entrepreneurship
  • Teamwork and partnership
  • Business networking
  • Personal finance
  • Responsibility
  • Creative advertising
  • Time management
  • Supply and demand (scarcity)

Throughout the day, students learn to make effective decisions as consumers, producers, savers, investors, and citizens.