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Class Project At Marion School Mixes Learning, Philanthropy

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MARION, Iowa -- Students at St. Joseph Catholic School in Marion are raising funds for a local charity while learning real-world skills.

The project centers around the sale of rainbow loom bracelets and necklaces, made from tiny rubber bands. The proceeds from the sale of the jewelry benefit the Cedar Valley Humane Society. They come in a variety of colors and designs, and a lot of learning goes into them before they are bought.

Students in Samantha Paulson's second grade classroom at St. Joseph make each piece by hand as part of what's called project based learning.

The students are broken into teams -- marketing, public relations, production and sales. They asked school administrators for permission to sell the bracelets, made a commercial to promote them, created the items and are now selling them to students, teachers, and family.

They are tracking how many they sell and how much money they make.

"Project-based learning requires a lot of inquiry (by) students," Paulson said. "They have to go and ask the questions and answer the questions. Instead of me telling them what they're going to be learning, they get to decide what they're learning and figure out the answers to their questions.

The bracelets start at 75 cents and go up in price for the more intricate designs. The students chose to donate the proceeds to the Humane Society after coming up with a list of 15 local charities and taking a class vote. On their first day of sales the students made $88.

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