Based on a childhood barter game called “Bigger and Better,” Kyle MacDonald, a young man from Canada, made a series of trades on Craig’s List to go from one red paper clip to owning his very own home.

Dickinson State University’s Business Ethics class is going to take up the challenge on the DSU campus for the eighth year. Professor Debora Dragseth doesn’t expect each student to end up with a house—but they are going to do the best that they can. Dragseth noted, “you can expect to find students around campus and the community in the next few weeks bartering for trades.”

The goal of this game is for DSU students to improve their communication, negotiation, and collaborative skills to help set them up for real-world life and scenarios.

Kenzie Reed, a 2021 DSU graduate in business administration and current DSU master’s degree student stated, “The red paper clip assignment for Dragseth’s class was an awesome learning experience for students. At first, I didn’t know how I would be able to trade anyone off for a red paper clip, let alone finish with a valued object like the man and the house. However, I knew if I took little steps, I could make progress little by little. My trades consisted from pens, coffee cups, a sign, and even a snowboard. However, my favorite trade resulted in a trade from a snowboard to a coffee maker. At the end of the challenge, I was stunned looking back knowing I traded a little red paper clip for a new coffee maker.”

When the 27 students have completed the “game,” they will be setting up a silent auction on the afternoon of Tuesday, April 18 at the DSU Heritage Foundation Alumni House, with the goal of selling whatever they got for their final trade. The money from this auction will be given to the BackPack Food Program, an all-volunteer run food program meant to help alleviate childhood hunger.

“Not only was this such a fun experience, but it challenged the students,” Reed continued. “It made us dive deep into our creative thinking, as well as look at something from a whole new perspective. I am glad I got to participate in this assignment!”

For more information, please contact Dr. Debora Dragseth by email at or by phone at 701-502-4412.