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Cool Schools: Balancing Budgets At 'Finance Park'

7:43 AM, Mar 25, 2011   |    comments
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FAIRFAX, Va. (WUSA) -- Eighth graders who know how to apply for a mortgage? You bet! That's just a small portion of what they learn at "Finance Park" in Fairfax County.

With the help of Capital One bank, Junior Achievement built a $2 million financial learning center behind Frost Middle School.

Middle schoolers throughout the country get 6 weeks of real life budget lessons in their classroom. When they finish, they hop a bus to this gleaming new facility.

During their day, students go to authentic looking store fronts and learn how to fill out a car loan application and buy insurance. There are even places to buy investments and for giving to charity.

Carolyn Berkowitz from Capital One says it's not only great for students, Finance Park helps her company in the long run as well: "When kids understand how to manage their money and how to make those good choices, they will be better consumers ultimately."

As soon as the teens balance their budgets, they get handed an "Unlucky Chance Card." It has information that wrecks their entire balance sheet, just like in real life. For example, the card will have the added expense of the engine blowing in your car or a tree falling on your home.

Students are not allowed to finish the day in the read at Finance Park, so they have to adjust all of their figures.

Eighth grader Divya Rendarajan says, "It definitely gave me some insight on how adult life is going to be, and how I'm going to manage my money well and be careful with it."

If you have a Cool School e-mail Mike Hydeck your story ideas at coolschools@wusa9.com. Catch our Cool Schools reports every Friday morning at 5:45 a.m.

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