Skip to main content

Derek Whetten prepares his students for challenging business simulation using a lemonade stand game

Graphic of stand with lemonade pitcher with words "4 cups sugar" and "3 lemons" and two cups of lemonade with words "25¢" and "6 ice cubes."

After noticing certain students did poorly on the business simulation game Capsim, Derek Whetten, an adjunct faculty member, said he was determined to do something about it. To find a solution, Whetten said he created surveys to see what could be causing students to struggle.

As a teacher, Whetten said it was disheartening to see some students do well but others do poorly.

Whetten described Capsim as an online business simulation game where the students manage a business and make decisions about marketing budgets, innovations to their products, and pricing. They also decide whether to take out loans and sell stock and different aspects of a business. 

Cynthia Bee Yan Teng, a freshman from Malaysia studying accounting, speaks English as her second language. She said, "I [found] it was difficult because I didn't understand the basics of the Capsim, especially the words that are used in business."

The surveys showed students with little experience in strategy games did worse on Capsim, Whetten said, so he introduced a computer game to his curriculum to help prepare for Capsim.

The lemonade stand game

In an attempt to help solve the problems he had noticed, Whetten introduced a new portion to his curriculum. It was "a very simple lemonade stand game online where students play seven days of this game," he said.

"They buy their lemons and their sugar, their ice, and their cups. They have to manage their money and sell their lemonade, raise their prices on sunny days and lower their prices on cold, rainy days."

Tekarohi Dexter, a sophomore from Tahiti studying hospitality and tourism management, said, the lemonade stand game "helped me prepare for Capsim. I did well with it, so when we went through Capsim, I followed [similar] steps and learned new strategies to do well."

When we went through Capsim, I followed [similar] steps and learned new strategies to do well.
Tekarohi Dexter

In high school, Dexter said she had a marketing class, and she also did an internship where she sold costly bags. She said, "I learned how they priced the items, how much they had to pay for materials and their employees to make it. Strategy games online will help you understand but also your personal experience." 

She said playing the lemonade stand game was fun and helped her have a better attitude towards Capsim. 

Whetten said he noticed the definite language barrier, but he also said, "[My] students have learned differently, and at different levels. Some school systems in some countries are much more rigorous academically than others. Some have more [resources] than others. Also, different focuses: some are more math, and science-focused and others are more social studies and humanities-focused." 

Teng said she had no experience with simulation or strategy games. She said, "The lemonade game at the beginning of the semester helped me make better [business management] decisions under different circumstances."

Whetten spoke more about his use of this lemonade stand game and how he tries to help his students on May 6 on Ke Alaka'i: The Podcast. The episode titled "Derek Whetten" is found on Spotify and Apple Podcasts, or via the Ke Alaka'i: The Podcast Instagram @kealakaipod.