Martin Elementary Is Buzzing about Bees, Business and Bots


Mariana Ivansic, Davis Essary, and Ebby Britt “pitch” their business concept for beeswax crayons to Weakley County Schools Board Chair Steve Vantrease at the December meeting held at Martin Elementary School. The students are part of a fourth-grade enrichment class that has taken reading about bees off the printed page. After “launching” their businesses this fall they will focus on a Save the Bees campaign in the new year as well as programming bots to locate pollen sources.[/caption]

MES fourth-graders Alexa Vu, Tori Parks, and Thomas Freeman formed a “company” called Bee Beautiful … Skin Care for All.[/caption]

MES fourth-graders Mariana Ivansic, Ebby Britt, and Davis Essary got creative with their crayon company Rainbow Bees.

MES fourth-graders Piper Croom, Lianne Collier, and Brighton Pollard cooked up the idea of baking with honey for their proposed business Greek Honey Cakes.


Weakley County Schools Communications Director

MARTIN (December 3) - After a successful Summer Scholars program using a student run “business” to integrate reading, math, art and soft skills development, Martin Elementary School doubled down on their investment. Employing the agriculture and education expertise of School Counselor Amy Tuck once again, the new year’s enrichment classes began buzzing about even more business opportunities. A study of the honey bee has now turned into three proposed (pretend) “business start ups” – all headed by fourth graders.

Throughout the fall, students in the RTI class taught by Tuck studied types of bees as well as the bee’s anatomy and life cycle. They researched hive life and the byproducts. They also heard from Stephen Penick, a local beekeeper.

With the knowledge gained from their reading and research, they moved into investigating what could be done with the natural resources produced by the hive – honey, pollen, beeswax and propolis. Students proposed individual items they might enjoy producing and based on similar interests three teams were formed.

Teams then agreed on one product, created a business plan complete with mission statements, budgets, and marketing plans.

The companies established by the young entrepreneurs include:

Bee Beautiful … Skin Care for All was launched with Thomas Freeman as Chief Executive Officer, Alexa Vu as Chief Financial Officer, and Tori Parks as Chief Marketing Officer. Beginning with an organic lip balm, the company plans to continue its mission of making “quality natural skin care products for beautiful soft skin” by eventually selling honey face masks.

CEO Thomas says he likes to set goals for himself and loves to experiment with different things. A leader in football and baseball, he has been recognized for academic excellence as a Charger Scholar. Vu, with her love of math, had already dreamed of being a CFO when she was tapped by the skin care company for the role. She and Thomas are both involved in STEM activities. Parks brought her creativity and experience to the fledgling business as she had previously made chapstick at home. Her competitive gymnastics experience should prove valuable as she makes plans to compete for a share of the skin care market.

The minds behind Rainbow Bees would like to manufacture and sell crayons from beeswax and eventually add to a coloring book that teaches children about bees to its product line. CEO Davis Essary, CFO Mariana Ivansic, and CMO Ebby Britt tout as a benefit to the customer that the crayons are easy to hold and include “amazing customer service” as part of their mission.

Essary says he loves challenges and works hard including experimenting with natural resources. Ivansic has combined her love of math and doing arts and crafts in her role in the company. She is vice president of her 4-H Club and is a Charger Scholar. Britt also enjoys drawing and coloring and knows a lot about bees and their by-products. She is a Student Council member. All three are involved in STEM activities.

Greek Honey Cakes are the current offering of Busy Bee Bakery, owned by CEO Brighton Pollard, CFO Piper Croom, and CMO Lianne Collier. They would like to expand and offer honey turmeric paste for baking sweet treats in the future. Their mission is straightforward: “to make customers happy and make enough profit to stay in business.”

Pollard says he has a joy for cooking almost any type of food and perfecting his dishes for flavor. He spends time outside the office playing youth league basketball. Croom also likes to bake and cooking with her mom. She enjoys dance for relaxing. Collier counts baking and creative drawing as favorite activities. She also likes to experiment and enjoy nature.

The week they presented their plans to “potential investors” (in the form of MES and Weakley County Schools staff and the Weakley County School Board who were holding their monthly meeting at MES). Students answered such questions as How much does it cost to make your product? How much are you selling your product for? What is your profit? How much are your monthly expenses? How much does each business owner get paid each month for a salary? How many products do you have to sell in a month to pay your expenses and salaries? Who is your target market? How will you market your product?

School Board members enjoyed samples - produced by Tuck and the child entrepreneurs – prior to the board meeting.

Additionally, that week Tuck received word that the Charger Foundation had approved a grant, which will allow for the means to digitally design and produce posters for a Save the Bees campaign. The grant also covers the purchase of Bee Bots, small bee robots that students will learn to code which are similar to the drones now utilized in ag technology to find pollen sources.

“I am so proud of these children,” said Tuck of the work the nine students have put into the posters, plans and production. “I’m excited to extend the learning – mine as well as theirs -- in the new year as we explore programming the bots.”

School principal Patresa Rogers and assistant principal Tiffany Frazier expressed praise for Tuck and the young business “owners” after they participated in “pitch meetings” where the business leaders explained their business plans.

“That’s exactly what we want to see for our students,” said Rogers. “Mrs. Amy has done a wonderful job of introducing skills they will need in the future and integrating the standards in such a way that they don’t even realize that the fun they are having is learning in action.”