Starting a business at school is an emerging project-based learning experience. As technology and startup culture spreads across the US, many schools are using entrepreneurship as a tool to teach 21st-century skills that translate into the real world. Entrepreneurship teaches students a wide range of skills simultaneously: problem-solving, decision making, critical thinking, communication, creation, innovation and more. In addition, students can learn about finance, business, and marketing – all of which can turn into career options.
Entrepreneurship based programs often reach out into the community, with parents, local companies and community members taking part. A web article on the Aspen Institute website explains it this way:
“Our education system is responsible for preparing young people to build successful lives. They should be ready for the wide range of possibilities ahead of them, including working for others, starting their own ventures, and contributing to their communities. All of these options require a depth of knowledge in their chosen discipline, as well as creative problem-solving skills, leadership abilities, experience working on effective teams, and adaptability in an ever-changing environment. It’s no coincidence that these are the same capabilities that employers say they want in college graduates.”Aspen Institute
Here are a few examples of schools building project-based learning around entrepreneurship:
Linden High School (Linden, N.J.) – Through Linden High School’s Entrepreneurial Management Achievement Program (EMAP), students work with local companies to learn how to run a business and create products. Students can also develop their own businesses, create prototypes and sell their own products.
Students must interview and apply to join the competitive program, which graduates up to 30 students per year. They also participate in an annual community showcase where they present their ideas and work. A recent graduate showcased a business called “You’re Inspirations” which creates products for blind and visually impaired people.
Richwoods High School (Peoria, Ill.) – Along with a local businessman, Richwoods students created AppsCo, a nonprofit company. In less than a year, students created and marketed a mobile app for a local country club. Students are working on a similar project for the Peoria Riverfront Museum.
Meanwhile, they have taken on an ambitious project to raise funds to restore a historic football-shaped sign at Peoria Stadium. The city nearly sold the aging community events center in 2013, but stopped after community backlash. Students plan to erect an eight-foot by 14-foot LED sign at the stadium, then sell advertising on the space. The project requires financial support from the community and a presentation to the city council to move forward. Students hope this project will help revitalize the crumbling stadium which needs about $2 million to fully restore, the Peoria Journal-Star reported.
Kenosha School of Technology Enhanced Curriculum (Kenosha, Wisc.) – A group of middle school students at Kenosha School of Technology (KTEC) spent a summer creating a manufacturing company. The result was the sale and design of the T-CUBE – Textured Cube Usable By Everyone – a fidget product.
As part of the project, students participated in the business development process including brainstorming market problems and solutions and defining a target market for their product. They also pitched their idea to community investors raising just more than $1,000 to fund the company. The program was a joint effort of Junior Achievement, Leeward Business Advisors e Kenosha School of Technology Enhanced Curriculum.
Seelig, Tina. “Why Schools Should Teach Entrepreneurship” June 29, 2017. The Aspen Institute.
Nisse, Jake. “Young entrepreneurs on display at Linden High School exhibition.” July 27, 2017.
Adams, Pam. “Student business group wants to be key to reviving Peoria Stadium.”
Peoria Journal Star. Aug. 7, 2017. Web. http://www.pjstar.com/news/20170807/student-business-group-wants-to-be-key-to-reviving-peoria-stadium
Davenport, Rex. “Student business brings its product to Harbor Market the next two weeks.”